NEGAUNEE - After losing six seniors to graduation from a team that went 16-6 overall last season and captured the Mid-Peninsula Conference title, Negaunee High School girls basketball head coach Brandon Sager knows the 2013-14 campaign will be a learning experience for his squad.
"We'll be young and a little bit inexperienced," the second-year coach said prior to the Miners' opening game at Gladstone Tuesday. "We're still trying to figure things out."
Sager has three returning players in senior power forward Rosalie Anderson (5-7), her sister, junior wing Adena Anderson (5-6) and senior center-power forward Aubri Romback (5-8).
The Negaunee High School girls basketball team will look to improves upon last year’s 16-6 overall record and 10-2 Mid-Peninsula Conference mark. Team members entering the 2013-14 season are, in the front row from left, Hannah Laurila, Rosalie Anderson, Aubri Romback, Adena Anderson and Aleda Johnson. Back row: Ashley Tresedder, Courtney Finnila, Courtney Clickner, head coach Brandon Sager, Hailee Richards, Nicole Carlson and Alexa Olgren. (Photo courtesy of Dale Rogers)
Rosalie Anderson led NHS last season in scoring (10.2 ppg), rebounding (6.0 rpg) and free throw shooting (69.7 percent).
"She's our rock," Sager said. "Her work ethic is second to none and she does everything well. She can be a vocal leader, but also leads by example.
"She comes to play in practice every day."
Negaunee girls 2013-14 schedule
Dec. 3 - Gladstone 43, Negaunee 30
Dec. 6 - Manistique, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 10 - at Escanaba, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 17 - Marquette, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 20 - at Norway, 8 p.m.
Dec. 30 - Iron Mountain, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 3 - at Manistique, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 9 - Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 - L'Anse, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 - at Westwood, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 - at Ishpeming, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 22 - Escanaba, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 - Gladstone, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 - Norway, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 - at L'Anse, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 6 - at Iron Mountain, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 11 - at Gwinn, 7:30 p.m,.
Feb. 14 - Westwood, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 - at Marquette, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 20 - Ishpeming, 7:30 p.m.
The coach said Anderson sprained her right ankle during preseason drills.
"She came down on someone's foot. She's doing physical therapy and we're hoping she'll see some limited action our first couple of games," Sager said.
Adena Anderson averaged 4.4 points and 4.2 rebounds a game last season.
"She can play inside or out, but we're trying to get her on the wing," Sager said. "Her defense is good, but she's probably our best consistent shooter."
Sager said freshman Aleda Johnson (5-2) will likely play point guard.
"She's very athletic and worked hard over the summer on her shot," he said. "She's one of those up-and-coming players who just needs some experience."
Sophomore wing Courtney Finnila (5-6) is a "good 3-point shooter," Sager said.
"She's our best player as far as basketball IQ goes," he added.
Romback, junior forward Alexa Olgren (5-6) and junior guard Courtney Clickner (5-5) are "in the mix" to start for the Miners, as well.
Other members of the NHS team are junior power forward Hailee Richards (5-7); junior guard Ashley Tresedder (5-4); junior guard Nicole Carlson (5-3); and junior guard Hannah Laurila (5-3).
"We have a lot of guards with similar abilities," said Sager, a 1990 Ishpeming High School and 1996 Northern Michigan University graduate. "(But) we don't have a lot of size."
He said the Miners have been working on boxing out on the boards and playing tight defense in practice,
"We're focusing on defense and rebounding," said Sager, assistant director of facilities at NMU. "We're also trying to get the girls to understand they have to work hard every day."
He said the Miners "would love to defend" their M-PC crown, but he expects the conference race to be wide open.
"I don't know a lot about some teams," Sager said, "but Ishpeming has a lot of returning players, Gwinn has a good team and Westwood is going to be decent."