Girls’ Basketball Preview
The girls’ basketball season has started, and practices are going well. Head Coach Gordon Thiessen said, “We have lots of experience with four returning starters: Amber Mazankowski (12), Emily Simmons (12), Cassidy Ostrand (11), and Whitney Heuermann (11) and several other key players returning as well.”
The team has a deeper bench this year than in previous years which will be a nice advantage for the returning starters with other key players ready to step in. There are 14 girls out for the team this year: seniors Amber Mazankowski, Emily Simmons, and Hope Baldwin; juniors Whitney Heuermann, Cassidy Ostrand, Alexis Hower, and Tara Murphy; sophomores Alyssa Prettyman, Katie Entz, Sarah Simmons, Anna Li, and Grace Wu; and freshmen Claire Ostrand and Anna Musgrave.
The team played Central City in a preseason game right before Thanksgiving. In regards to that game, Coach Thiessen said, “It’s clear following our preseason game that we have lots of work to do, but I’m very optimistic that we will see much progress in the weeks of practice leading into our first game.”
The Lady Eagles’ season opener is Friday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m. at Nebraska Christian against St. Edward. When asked about future games in the season and which would be most challenging, Coach Thiessen said, “It’s likely that Humphrey St. Francis will be our toughest conference opponent. Last year, they won the Goldenrod Conference and return nearly all their starters to a team that also played in the final of the State Tournament. Outside of our conference, the best team might be Shelby again. Though they graduated a 6-foot-3 All-American who is attending the University of Illinois, they still have a good group of athletes returning this year.”
The strength of this year’s team is built around good defense, and the girls have worked hard the past two years to play aggressive man-to-man defense. Coach Thiessen said, “We should be very competitive with every team on our schedule if we continue to play well defensively and improve our offensive output.” The team is also working on having a good offensive game with strong shooters and driving players.
As the season goes on, the team will need to work together to accomplish common goals. Coach Thiessen said, “I have the same overall goal that my teams have had for 15 years: To glorify God on the court with their attitudes and actions. My coaching philosophy is based on Colossians 3:23, ‘Whatever you do, do your work heartily for the Lord rather than men.’ We’re focused on being the very best team that we can with the abilities and talents the Lord has given us. We don’t talk a lot about the win/loss record. Rather, we spend our time and energies focused on the journey to improve throughout the season. Last season, the girls had the first winning season in school history. That’s a wonderful blessing, but doesn’t mean that previous teams were failures in the eyes of the Lord.”
With a new kind of team this year, the girls will face different challenges that come with that, but with a common goal of working for the Lord, the girls’ team may show others the difference they have in their hearts during the heat of competition. Giving their all for the glory of God on and off the court will make a difference not only in the season but for eternity, and making an eternal impact is far more important than any other thing they do. If the girls on the team keep this as their focus, they will be successful regardless of their win/loss record.