By Ben Murphy
Now in her fourth year as head coach of the Harrison Lady Hornet basketball team, Kelly Cook has gotten the program on the tick up. Last year the team went 6-16 overall and 2-12 in the Jack Pine Conference and won its first post-season game in nine years, before falling to McBain in the district semi-finals.
Even though Harrison lost junior post-player Allison Lipovsky for the entire basketball season, Cook isn’t letting that get her down about the upcoming season.
“It’s going to be a great year for us,” Cook said. “We have enthusiasm, great parental support, athleticism and hard work ethic. I’m looking forward to a fun year.”
The Hornets have just two returning letter winners from last season in senior Katelyn Sherrick (guard) and sophomore Jessica Scherrer (forward).
“Lipovsky wold have been our other (returning player)… she will be greatly missed,” Cook said. “Having graduated five seniors last year we started the year with two players at the varsity level. We were blessed with a great numbers at the junior varsity level so we were able to pull up several players and we have three juniors that advanced from last year’s junior varsity team.”
Those juniors are Dani Cullen (guard), Carli Bushell (guard) and Alyssa Haag (forward). Also on the team are sophomores Lexi LaChappa (center) and Toni Fletcher (guard) and freshmen Nicole Willman (guard) and Ashleigh Woolston (forward). Junior exchange student Niko Juan (guard) of Spain rounds out the roster.
“We are a very, very young team with eight first year varsity players,” Cook said. “It will take them a while to establish new roles and feel the intensity of varsity ball. They are smart, aggressive and team oriented.
They never leave anyone behind in drills, practices or conditioning. The chemistry is the best I’ve seen in a long time.”
While still confident in the squad, the injury to Lipovsky does change the complexion of her roster. “With her gone, we still have strength in the post with rebounding and fast breaks,” Cook said. “We will be hindered a little offensively but LaChappa and Woolston know their way around the hoop.” The coach sees the JPC as a strong league this year and knows her team will have their work cut out for them to improve on their two conference wins from last year.
“At the top of our league I look for Gladwin to be a sleeper and could very well upset Clare,” Cook said. “Beaverton will still have their hat in the ring this year for the title. Our keys for a strong conference showing will be consistent scoring as this has been our area of low output. We are a strong shooting team this year but the youth will show.”
The Lady Hornets opened their season on Tuesday night, losing 48-33 in Lake City. The Hornets led 8-7 after the fi rst quarter but fell behind 23-12 at the half and trailed 36-19 entering the fourth.
Harrison (0-1) hosts Houghton Lake tonight (Friday) to open JPC play and hosts Coleman on Tuesday.