Absentees provide stiff challenge for senior girls’ squad

Joey Payeur

Dan Bird surveyed the scene and made the obvious analysis.
“It’s definitely going to be a different year with these 10,” mused the Muskie senior girls’ basketball chief strategist who, along with co-coach Mike Krueger, will do his best to concentrate on the talent he has instead of the skill players he was expecting to have but doesn’t.
Abby Sanders, ticketed to be the team’s starting point guard and likely its top offensive threat, likely is to miss the entire season after seriously injuring her knee for the second time in three months.
“We’ve got her on the roster but it’s very possible she might not play,” Bird said ruefully.
“I’m not too optimistic,” he admitted.
“We would love to have her but her personal health is more important,” Bird stressed.
“It’s in her best interest to take a rest.”
Sanders is one of four experienced players who would have bolstered the Muskie lineup but won’t be available this season.
Two have moved elsewhere for this school year, including veteran forward Carmen Godin and last year’s top scorer for the Muskie junior squad, Adyson Wilson-Hands.
Hard-edged forward Bryanna Dustin, meanwhile, has chosen not to play basketball this year.
Bird will try to get the most out of the troops who have showed up to do battle.
There will be no shortage of grit at the guard spot, with veterans Jyllian Westover and Mykenzie Borger not about to back down from any offensive push.
Forwards Ellie Petsnick and Madison Morrison, along with guard Nadia Webb, also are back while forward Taylor Steinke returns in her senior year after not having played since Grade 10.
Rookie Sarah Larson brings some significant height to the table, which should cause foes no shortage of grief in the rebounding and defensive departments.
Guards Alina Eldridge, Andrea Schram, and Janissa Judson also inject new blood into the Muskie system.
“We’re going to focus on defence and let the offence evolve over time,” Bird indicated.
“I’m happy with the group we have here,” he added. “They’re eager and hard-working and coachable.
“As long as we have that, we will have a great season.
“I’m sure with the group we’ve got, they will come along,” Bird said.
“By season’s end, we will have 10 players who can all contribute.”
The squad’s first test will come this Friday and Saturday at the Lakehead University Timberwolves’ pre-season tournament in Thunder Bay.
“We’re going to concentrate on doing things right,” Bird noted.
“We’re not going to worry a lot about the offence and work on the basics as much as we can.”
The Muskies then open their NorWOSSA regular-season campaign this Tuesday (Sept. 19) in Kenora against the Broncos.
Their home-opener is slated for Sept. 26 against the Dryden Eagles.