South Haven’s girls basketball team is looking to reload in its final season in the Wolverine Conference.
The Rams, set to join the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference starting next school year, return just three players from last season. Coach Joseph Holland said the team is picking up the system quickly, however.
“There is always a shot (to win some games) with this group, but we also have a lot to overcome,” Holland said. “Last year we lost six seniors who were very key to this team’s success. However, I’m excited with some of the underclassmen we have and the talent they will bring.
“I don’t know if a conference title or district title is something we will be shooting for, but the girls’ goal is just to get better and better each day.”
Holland listed three players as the key to South Haven’s on-court success.
Jordyn Holland, a junior guard, returns for her third varsity season. Yazmine Hall and Bernadette Brown are both senior starters for the Rams. Hall, also in her third season, is a guard and forward.
“This is Jordyn and Yazmine’s third year on varsity,” he said. “Both have a lot of experience and bring a lot of game knowledge to this team. They will both have big shoes to fill and responsibilities of leadership this year.”
At 6-foot-1, Brown will be a factor down low, Holland said.
South Haven finished last season at 9-13 overall, with a 2-6 mark in the Wolverine North.
Otsego was the conference champion last season, with Plainwell finishing a close second.
Holland said he expects both teams to again be strong this winter. He also listed Edwardsburg as a contender in the South Division.
“With Otsego and Edwardsburg pretty much running the conference the past few years, I think most will agree that Plainwell will be one that has a very strong shot to knock both off this year,” Holland said.
Holland also said the Rams might make a little run as well, something that would be satisfying as the team plans on leaving the Wolverine for the BCS next year.
“I know once things start to click, this team is going to surprise a lot of people,” he said. “I would say finishing the conference on a strong note would be satisfying with it being our last year in the Wolverine.”
Dowagiac will compete in the South Division. The Chieftains are under the helm of first-year coach Jason Turner.
Turner was promoted to varsity coach this season after three seasons as an assistant.
Dowagiac struggled in-conference last season, going 0-8. With an 8-13 overall mark, Turner said he believes the team has the pieces it needs to start to build a successful team, though getting past conference powers like Edwardsburg and Three Rivers will be a tough task.
“So far this year the team has a lot of high energy,” said Turner. “We are young and inexperienced, but that means we have a lot of room to improve throughout the season.”
Turner named Allie Conner, a junior guard, and Greta Whitaker, a senior guard, as key contributors this season.
While accumulating wins is of course important, Turner said the team’s main goal is to continue to improve.
“(We want to) work hard every day, create a good team culture, and keep improving,” Turner said. “We want to do all of this while still having fun.”
Contact: bspencer@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSpencer