EBEN - To say Greg Trowbridge is excited about his 2012-13 Superior Central High School girls basketball team would be an understatement.
"I've got a good bunch of kids - a coach's dream," the Cougars' head coach said. "This is the best team I've ever coached."
It's easy to see why he's so enthused. SC lost just one player to graduation - Jamie Seppanen - from a team that went 21-3 overall last season and made it to the MHSAA Class D regional final.
2012-13 Superior Central girls basketball team. (Submitted)
"Last year, our defense was good. It should be again this year," he said. "And I think our offense has stepped up a notch. We have a lot of speed."
Leading the way for the Cougars will be All-Upper Peninsula Class D First Team pick Vanessa Freberg (5-foot-8 junior guard/forward). She averaged nearly 16 points, eight rebounds and three steals per game last season.
"She has worked hard all summer and has improved her game," said Trowbridge, entering his seventh season at the Cougars' helm. "She can bring the ball down, shoot and rebounds well. She's a solid player and a hard person to guard."
Superior Central girls
Nov. 26 - At Ishpeming, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 - Big Bay de Noc, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 - Rapid River, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11 - Carney-Nadeau, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 - Mid Peninsula, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 28 - At Gwinn, 6 or 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 3 - Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4 - At Rapid River, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8 - Ishpeming, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11 - At North Central, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 14 - Gwinn, 7:30 p.m..
Jan. 19 - At Brimley, 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 21 - At Mid Peninsula, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 - North Central, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 - At Engadine, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 - At Big Bay de Noc, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 - Bark River-Harris, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 14 - At Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 - At Carney-Nadeau, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 - Engadine, 7:30 p.m.
All-U.P. special mention pick Teslyn Tyner (5-3 junior guard) is also back.
"She's incredibly fast and is doing a better job with ball-handling now," the coach said.
Brooke Pasanen (5-6 junior guard/forward) broke a finger playing softball over the summer, but Trowbridge says she's ready to play.
"She drives to the basket with a quick step to the hoop, but can also shoot 3s," Trowbridge said. "She's also a hard person to score on."
The coach added Kelsey Coleman (5-10 senior forward/center) is "a key player for us."
"We'll get some key points and rebounds out of her," he said.
Defensive specialist Mikayla Barrows (5-6 junior guard/forward) and Lindsay Richmond (5-5 senior guard) will also be back, but Trowbridge said Brianna Emard (5-6 junior guard/forward) may not return this season due to a knee injury that required surgery.
"It has been something ongoing and the pain was just more than she could bare," he said. "Not having her is a disappointment."
New to the Cougars' lineup this season will be junior guard/forward Bethany Pirman and junior forward Molly Swajanen.
Trowbridge said the team's first goal this season is to capture the Central U.P. title after going 10-2 in the league last season.
"We're keying on the CUP to start, but there are a lot of good teams in the league," he said. "You have a bad game, though, and someone will surprise you.
"We'll have a few tough games this season in Ishpeming, Gwinn, at Brimley in January and Bark River-Harris."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.