MARQUETTE - The Marquette Senior High School girls basketball team is in the unusual situation of both rebuilding and cashing in on its senior leadership.
It has something to do with the Redettes lineup of five seniors, five sophomores, but no juniors.
"I like how athletic they are and how hard they play," MSHS head coach Ben Smith said. "That doesn't mean they don't have good basketball skills, but if you win the effort battle, it's makes everything else so much easier.
"We didn't just bring five sophomores up to fill in spots on our roster, either. I think they're all players who will contribute in their own way."
The Redettes were just 4-4 in the Great Northern Conference but had a 13-8 overall mark last season. However, that included a one-point overtime loss at Traverse City Central to open the Class A district tournament and end a three-year string of Marquette district titles.
"The first day we started together, I told the girls I'm miserable about the way things ended last year," Smith said. "Winning a district title is something we've stated as one of our goals. We'd like to win a state title, too, but you can't do that without a district title first."
MSHS girls 2012-13 Schedule
Nov. 30 - vs. Brighton, 6 p.m.*
Dec. 1 - vs.St. Ignace or Petoskey, TBA
Dec. 4 - At Gladstone, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 6 - Westwood, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 14 - At Kingsford, 8 p.m.
Dec. 17 - At Westwood, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 20 - Negaunee, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 27 - At TC Central, 5:30 p.m.^
Dec. 28 - At TC West, 2:30 p.m.^
Jan. 4 - Menominee, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 8 - At Escanaba, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15 - Gladstone, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 17 - Escanaba, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 25 - At Menominee, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 - At Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 - At Houghton, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 7 - Kingsford, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 12 - At Sault Area, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 14 - Houghton, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 19 - At Negaunee, 7:45 p.m.
* - Petoskey Invitational
^ - Holiday Classic
2012-13 previews schedule
Nov. 15 - Ishpeming (3B)
Nov. 15 - Republic-Michigamme (2B)
Nov. 16 - Negaunee
Nov. 17 - Westwood
Today - Marquette
Nov. 19 - Gwinn
Nov. 20 - Munising
Nov. 21 - Newberry
Nov. 23 - Superior Central
Nov. 24 - Manistique
Nov. 25 - L'Anse
Nov. 26 - Baraga
The team will open without 5-foot-6 senior wing Courtney LaFreniere, who is rehabbing a knee injury, but may be back in January. She was named to the GNC All-Defensive and Second teams last season.
Marquette still has plenty of experience back in three seniors - 5-5 point guard Liana Storm, 5-9 wing/post player Morgan Seibert and 5-8 post player Lydia Kurin.
"Liana is a real good leader, a leader by example," Smith said. "Even when she had some ankle problems, she played a lot of minutes. She definitely understands what it means to be a leader."
Termed a good decision-maker and unselfish, Storm is also called a pass-first guard who can still score.
"Morgan will be there doing the right thing," Smith said, "so she can play multiple roles. She's definitely going to be a matchup problem for defenders."
She can score, defend and is able to attack both from the perimeter and in the post.
"Lydia plays really hard, and she had great rebounding numbers for the amount of time she had on the floor," her coach said.
Smith added that Kurin isn't afraid to stick her nose in to get the ball and can set screens, block but also slip outside and shoot from there.
The fifth senior is 5-11 exchange student Benta Korte, who played in the American equivalent of AAU basketball in her home Germany. Smith said she's already fitting in well with her new teammates.
Among the sophomores, 5-7 wing player Hunter Viitala and 5-9 center Kirsten Iwanski are slated to start.
"Hunter is a good athlete and shoots the ball well," Smith said. "She's starting to use her athletic ability more effectively.
"Kirsten is learning how to play in a physical way without drawing fouls."
Iwanski has played hockey in addition to basketball in the past and brings that mentality to the game.
The sophomore group is rounded out with 5-6 Shayla Huebner, 5-9 Lizzie Kurin and 5-10 Destiny Beckwith.
Huebner has quickness and great defensive ability, Lizzie Kurin is versatile and a shotmaker and Beckwith is also a good shooter.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is email@example.com.