It's a new season for the SJA Saints girls basketball team with the emphasis on the word new.
Adam Schroeder is the Saints first year coach and for the first game of the year against the Jackson County Central (JCC) Huskies, the Saints started two seniors and three sophomores.
The older, bigger, more experienced Huskies cashed in on the Saints youth and beat SJA 67-31.
The biggest loss for the Saints may have happened last week in a practice just before Thanksgiving.
Senior guard Devon Flohrs injured her knee in a scrimmage and was not available to play. She had an MRI on Tuesday and the results were not going to be known for a couple of days.
Coach Schroeder called Devon one of his best players and she would have been one of the starting guards.
She was one of the returning players with a great deal of experience and had played well in clutch situations last year, so her loss is going to have an impact on the season.
Schroeder was hopeful he could get his senior guard back sometime this year. We'll have to wait for the outcome of the MRI.
But this team was enthusiastic and ready to play Tuesday night. The starting lineup included seniors Aryn Eckstrom and Emily Hurley. The two seniors bring varsity game experience to the starting lineup.
The three sophomores starting were Brenda Cervantes, Elizabeth Reckow and Allison Brandts.
Players coming off the bench were senior Michaela Nordby and a group of sophomores and freshmen. The team has no juniors.
The Saints got off to a slow start. The Huskies opened up a 15-5 lead with less than five minutes gone in the game.
JCC employed a full court pressure defense most of the night and it proved difficult for the young Saints to overcome. For the night SJA had 39 turnovers.
It's going to take time, but the Saints are athletic, so the young ballhandlers will gain experience in dealing with the press. However, until they master breaking a press, they are likely to see a lot of it this year.
The Saints didn't reach ten points until Emily Bottem knocked in a pair of free throws more than two thirds the way through the first half.
With five and a half to go the Saints were down 27-11 and went on a bit of a run. They scored nine points in the last five plus minutes, which nearly equaled their scoring in the first 13 minutes.
A player that stood out in this mini-run was sophomore Brenda Cervantes. She has no hesitation slashing between defenders on her way to the basket. She scored several contested layups during the game.
Page 2 of 2 - Cervantes had seven points for the night and Hurley led the Saints with eight points.
Even though the Saints were making a run, that didn't stop JCC from scoring and the Saints trailed at halftime 40-20. Julia Beckius barely missed a full court three point shot as time expired.
It was more of the same in the second half as JCC clamped down on defense and the Huskies kept the scoring up. The Saints scored only 11 points in the second half.
Schroeder kept rotating in young playersgiving them game experience.
Three freshmen scored for the varsity. Allison Brandts scored four points, Beckius had three and Aubrey Eckstrom had a pair.
Sophomore starters Reckow had three and Bottem had two. The Saints made only 11-23 freethrows.