Experienced Lakers setting sights high this season

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake girls basketball will look to rely on its depth and experience in hopes of a deep postseason push this year.

Hayley May, Olivia Hejl, Abigail Cross, Alyssa Eisenlohr, Julie Schmidt, Kaitlynn Omar and Kennadey Smith are the seasoned seniors of the squad.

“I have seven seniors and most of these girls have been with me since they were freshmen,” said Bear Lake coach Jeff Harthun. “I moved them up when I came here four years ago as freshmen. Five of them came up with me, and we’re here — this is their senior year.”

A critical piece of the Laker team that won a West Michigan D League co-championship and district title last season will be missing this year, but Harthun believes some new faces can step in and fill the void.

“We lost Yuki Babinec last year — our point guard,” Harthun said. “She was with me for three years. That’s a huge loss, but everybody is going to step up. We have the same components as last year. I think that Shaely Waller coming off the JV team will really help us out at point guard.

“We’ve got Cosima Holler,” he continued. “She’s an exchange student from Germany. She’s going to help us out quite a bit at guard. We’ll just have to wait and see how they gel.”

Bear Lake had a good season last year, so Harthun sees little reason to change things up. His senior-heavy lineup could afford him the opportunity to push the ball a bit more to look for more fast-break baskets.

“I think this year we could mix it up a little bit more,” Harthun said. “I told the girls at the first practice, ‘You’re older, you’re stronger, you’re faster, you’re smarter.’ So I think our style will stay the same but I think we’ll be a little bit quicker this year. So that may change a little bit.”

The Lakers had a tremendous season last year and — with the bulk of the roster back and eager to make another run in the playoffs — Harthun sees no reason to believe this campaign should not be as good or better than the last.

“We want to be very competitive in the league,” Harthun said. “We were co-champs last year. We’d like to really win it outright this year. Definitely get back to the district and get a district championship. Get into the regional — that’s a great goal because we’ve got people who played back there from last year, so that is the goal.

“The goals never change. We’re going to play as far as we can get.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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