EBEN - After finishing the regular season undefeated and then losing to North Central in the first round of regionals last year, the Superior Central girls' basketball team is back and prepared to redeem itself.
"We have three starters returning and a couple off the bench from last year, so we expect to have a fairly good team this year," head coach Greg Trowbridge said.
The three returning starters - Vanessa Freberg, Teslyn Tyner and Brooke Pasanen - have already proven to be some of the Cougars' top scorers.
Last year, Freberg was an All-State Class D first-team selection and the Central U.P. League Player of the Year. Tyner and Pasanen earned spots on the All-U.P. first and second teams, respectively.
Trowbridge said he has seen improvement in all three girls since then, and he expects big things out of them this season.
Though they were not frequent scorers, the two seniors Superior Central lost - Kelsey Coleman and Lindsey Richmond - were reliable players who always seemed to get the ball in the right place at the right time, Trowbridge said.
Superior Central girls
Dec. 4 - Ishpeming, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 6 - at Big Bay de Noc, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11 - at Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 13 - at Rapid River, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 17 - at Carney-Nadeau, 8 p.m.
Dec. 20 -at Mid Peninsula, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 3 - Rapid River, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 7 - at Ishpeming, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 10 - North Central, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 - Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18 - Brimley, 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 - Mid Peninsula, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 23 - at North Central, 8 p.m.
Jan. 28 - Menominee, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 - Big Bay de Noc, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 - at DeTour, 3:30 p.m.
Feb. 6 - at BR-Harris, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13 - Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 - Carney-Nadeau, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 20 - at Engadine, 7:30 p.m.
The coach will call upon the rest of his varsity returners to fill the void in the starting lineup. Trowbridge said he will look especially to versatile senior Molly Swajanen to support his scorers.
"I'm expecting them to step up," Trowbridge said. "They all had pretty good years last year, and I'm going to expect them to build on that this year."
With constant turnover of seniors graduating and freshman coming in, Trowbridge said the team has a different dynamic every year.
Only losing two seniors from last season is likely to work in favor of the Cougars.
Trowbridge said this year's seniors are eager to return to the regional tournament. Superior Central has never won a regional title, as it has fallen in the semifinals each of the past two years.
Last year's loss against North Central - a team the Cougars beat twice during their undefeated regular season - left a bitter taste in the players' mouths.
"We blew a seven-point lead with five minutes to go to lose by five," Trowbridge said. "North Central was a pretty good ball team and on that particular night, better than us."
In order to find success in the postseason, Trowbridge said the team will have to take this season one game at a time and play to win every game.
"A couple of these seniors have been on varsity since they were freshmen," Trowbridge said. "I think this is going to be a fun year to watch."
Delaney Lovett can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org