Manistique Emeralds girls basketball team ready to turn corner
All times Eastern
Nov. 28 — Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 1 — at Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11 — Engadine, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 — at Westwood, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 19 — at Rudyard, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 — Newberry, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5 — Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 6 — Big Bay de Noc, 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 8 — at Engadine, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 — at Gladstone, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 16 — at Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 19 – Ishpeming, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 — Gladstone, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 29 — Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 — Iron Mountain, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 6 — at Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 — Westwood, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12 — at Iron Mountain, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 20 — at Ishpeming, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 22 — at Big Bay de Noc, 7:30 p.m.
MANISTIQUE — Following last season’s winless campaign, the Manistique girls appear to have only one way to go.
With a larger turnout this time, the odds appear to be a little more in their favor as they begin a new basketball season tonight by hosting Munising.
The Emeralds have 12 players on their team this season.
“We have pretty good numbers this year,” coach Dave Winkel said. “We had seven or eight most of last season.
“When it got late in the third quarter and fourth, the girls would run out of gas, and if it was an uptempo game they’d get winded.
“It’s nice to have some more options and be able to rest the girls a little more. Hopefully, we’ll have fresher legs in the fourth quarter.”
Seven of the eight girls return. Gone through graduation is guard Tasha Joslin.
“We didn’t have much size last year, but we have a handful of girls who are going to play in the post this year,” Winkel said. “We’ll be more balanced. I think there’s reason for optimism. We have a nice core we can build around.”
Five of the returners are seniors. They include 5-foot-8 forwards Lexi Russell and Emily Baker, 5-6 forward Madison Kraatz, 5-6 point guard Renae Schuetter and 5-2 backup point and shooting guard Madison Berry.
“We’ll rely on our seniors a lot,” Winkel said. “They make up most of our core. They have a year under their belts and know what it takes to compete at the varsity level.”
Winkel says Schuetter is the team’s emotional leader.
“All the girls kind of look up to her,” he said. “She puts every ounce of energy she has into everything. We’ll go as far as she can take us this year.
“Madison Berry is a hard-nosed player who doesn’t back down from anybody and Madison Kraatz was one of the top 3-point shooters in the (Mid-Peninsula) conference. She was one of our leading scorers last year and we’re going to look for more of the same from her.
“Lexi is our biggest presence down low. She uses her body well to establish position. We look to get the ball to her down low and do some damage.
“Emily is similar to Lexi. She’s slowly showing improvement and is one of our better interior defenders. We look to her as one of anchors on defense.”
Additional returners are juniors Alex Lakosky (5-9 forward-center), Joslyn Muth (5-8 guard-forward) and Sydny Peterson (5-3 guard) and sophomore Emilee McDaniel (5-8 forward).
“Joslyn is a lot like Renae,” the coach said. “She brings a high amount of energy and intensity every night and is probably one of our best defenders. We’re looking for a lot from her as a returning player and captain.
“Sydny is one of our top outside shooters. We’ve seen a steady pattern of growth from her.
“Alex is a good athlete and hopefully a presence down low and we’re looking for Emilee to have a nice year. Emilee can shoot and handle the ball. She’s more mature and comfortable on the floor and is more aggressive this year. She will be a versatile player.”
Winkel says there may be some variation in the Emeralds’ game plan this season.
“At times, we’ll be an uptempo team,” he added. “We have the athletes who can play that way. We also have some girls who can help us in the post.
“We may go to more of a half-court game at times. We’ll see how the season plays out.”
The Emeralds are preparing for what will likely be the final year of the M-PC.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Winkel said. “The M-PC has always had the reputation of being one of the best conferences in the U.P. It’s kind of sad to see it go, but you have to embrace the change. We’re kind of used to the travel. We’re not in an easy spot.”
Winkel anticipates quite a bit of parity within the league this season.
“There’s some good teams,” he said. “Based on what we saw, Ishpeming will be a team to be reckoned with. Negaunee always has a good team and I think Westwood will be good this year. I think we can also put (newcomer) Gladstone near the top. They always seem to come up with good players. Norway was great last year, but they’re now in the Skyline Central.”
Winkel, however, points to St. Ignace as the Class C team to beat in the Upper Peninsula.
“St. Ignace has an unbelievable program,” he said. “They get long, athletic girls who can do everything, and they know how to play the game. They learn at such a young age. They have a system and execute it to near perfection.”