Gwinn girls basketball looks to climb

Gwinn’s Marissa Delmont, right, brings the ball up court against Negaunee during their Class C district tournament game on March 1 at Lakeview Elementary School in Negaunee. (Journal file photo by Rachel Oakley)

GWINN — Last season was a rebuilding one for the Gwinn girls basketball team, but head coach Ben Olsen knew that going in and felt his team improved as the year went on.

“I knew we were going to take our lumps last year,” he said. “Our schedule last year, and I think every team’s in the U.P, was kind of brutal. We started 0-12 and I think we ended the season 4-4. So we made some progress.”

However, on paper this year looks as if it’s going to be a better one as the Modeltowners have not only some quick guards but a key post player as well.

“We have Trisha McGuire and Brooke Mannor back and they were with me as freshmen, so they’re juniors and this is going to be their third year starting,” Olsen said. “Tierra Taylor is my senior and this is the first time she’s been healthy in three years. Two years ago, she struggled with a calf, and last year she came back midway through after knee surgery. She’s actually feeling pretty good right now and she’s my ‘5’ in the middle.

“There’s Marissa Delmont, who is a sophomore and she’s one of the guards with those other two. Then there’s Brenna Bruce, who is a senior and she’s been with me since her sophomore year. We have a very good blend of seniors and some youth.”

Olsen said McGuire and Mannor are similar guards and after picking up two years of experience, he thinks that they both could have solid years.

“When they were freshmen, I kind of did a rotation thing with them,” he said. “One week I’d have one up on varsity and the other on JV and then a week later I’d switch. So they both played about 10 games as freshmen.

“They’re very similar players and I’m expecting big things from both of them. I think they’re both going to have kind of a breakout season this year.”

With Taylor, Olsen has that force in the paint that he’s missed since Tori Lauren graduated. Olsen had a lot of praise for his center and said that Taylor will be a huge part of Gwinn’s offense.

“She’s very good around the basket and she’s very physical,” he said. “She’s going to be a key to a lot of what we do and lot of our stuff is going to run in through her.

“We definitely want to get her the ball and I feel like a lot of U.P. girls teams lack a good post presence. So that’s something we definitely want to exploit.”

Gwinn will use a four-guard attack with Taylor manning the paint and Olsen said Bruce fits in as the Modeltowners’ perimeter weapon.

“Brenna is our shooter,” he said. “So she’s the one we kind of use to spread the floor a little bit and put her in the shooter corner. If anybody hops off her, she’s the one that we’re hoping to make shots off of it.”

Looking at the loaded Mid-Peninsula Conference, Olsen said that it’s fairly wide open with no dominant team as opposed to previous years.

“I think that there are four or five different teams that can win it this year,” he said. “I think it’s going to be one of those years where a couple-of-loss teams could win the conference.

“We’ve had years past where a team goes undefeated, but I kind of foresee us all beating up on each other. It’s a grind and there’s no easy game.

“You have to be ready to go each and every night. I think girls basketball is really up right now.”

All in all, Olsen thinks that his team has a lot of potential and this year could end up being a solid season for the Modeltowners.

“I think nobody is going to really know about us and I think that if everything comes together, it could be good,” he said. “We already lost one girl to an injury, so you’re always worried about that injury bug that can come up and get you, but I feel that we have a chance to be a very good basketball team.

“Like I tell people, we’re never going to go 20-0 and we’re really never going to go 15-5. But if we can get somewhere in the vicinity between 10 and 15 wins, I feel that’s a very good year for our program.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@ miningjournal.net.