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Republic-Michigamme Hawks girls basketball team hopes to improve

The Republic-Michigamme High School girls varsity team includes, from left, Abigail Oslund, Leah McCracken, Allie Radcliffe, Alexa Radcliffe, Keilee Gransinger and Sophia Jarvi. (Submitted photo)

Editor’s note: With the start-and-stop of winter sports seasons this year, The Mining Journal is publishing high school basketball team previews from Marquette and Alger counties over a number of days. This story was written early this month.

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REPUBLIC — The 2019-20 season was a tough one for the Republic-Michigamme girls basketball team as the team struggled overall.

However, Hawks head coach April Radcliffe said that her underclassmen “definitely improved” and that the team had “positive attitudes” despite the difficult year.

That year is behind them, though, as R-M is looking forward to opening its season. It is already at a disadvantage due to a lack of depth, but Radcliffe likes what she sees so far.

“I only have six girls this year and it’s a very young team,” she said. “Allie (Radcliffe) is my one senior and then I have Leah McCracken coming back as a junior and Abby Oslund is a junior. And then the rest are two freshmen and a sophomore. So it’s a very young team, but they’re very positive. They’re very quick learners, full of energy, excited to play the game.

“They’ve all played basketball before. My three younger ones coming up all played JV last year and they had a successful season, so I’m hoping that the energy carries over to this year for the varsity level.”

Coach Radcliffe said the Hawks’ goals are simple — limiting turnovers, making good passes and avoiding having running clocks in games that aren’t close. She also said she has mixed feelings about only playing each opponent once this year.

“Pros and cons because there are a couple teams that we can go toe-to-toe with and we only get to see them once, so we can’t learn from our mistakes,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll learn from our mistakes in the first half and do better in the second half.”

Due to their lack of depth, the Hawks have been unable to work on their defense and running their plays. So they’ve been focusing on basic skills like dribbling, passing and shot selection. Even though this year has been difficult due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Radcliffe said spirits remain high in her program.

“It has been very difficult and frustrating keeping morale up and keeping that desire to play,” she said. “We started in November, we got a week’s worth of practice in and then we were shut down and we didn’t know for how long.

“And then all of a sudden ‘Oh, we’re allowed to play, but no contact practices’ and then ‘Oh, delay after delay.’ So the girls are just very excited to be able to play and ready to get on the court this year.”

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

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