CORUNNA — Corunna’s girls basketball team ran through the Genessee Area Conference Red Division in 2018-19, losing just two games en route to a district title and regional berth.
With a new season comes changes. Corunna is no longer a member of the GAC, having now joined the Flint Metro League.
The Cavs’ championship roster has undergone some changes as well.
“We’ve got back one starter from (last year’s) team,” head coach Ron Birchmeier said. “The rest of (the team) will be all new.”
Losses from last year’s Cavs team include six graduated seniors, as well as three other players that won’t return this season due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances. And while the 2019-20 Cavs will still have four seniors, they don’t have the same experience as last year’s squad.
“We’re really developing our kids to hopefully pick up slack from what we’ve lost,” Birchmeier said.
To help pick up the team, Corunna will rely on some of their more veteran players to help with the transition. They seem up for the challenge.
“I have to be more of a leader, step up, lead by example, be positive and help (those new players) out,” said sophomore Ellie Toney, the team’s lone returning starter.
Returning post player Danielle French believes the team still has the potential to be as good as they were last season.
“We’re going to have to put more work into it, but I think we can get just as far as we did last year,” she said.
Birchmeier says he won’t know what the team can do until the season tips off.
“It’s still too early for us to know what we’ve have,” He said. “We’ll take it one game at a time. Our saying is one win at a time, so we’ll see what happens game by game.”
Corunna opens its season at Frankenmuth at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Genesee Area Conference
Conference Favorites: Hamady, Morrice, Genesee Christian
Coach: Kris Smith (14th season, 181-99)
Last Year: 15-3 (8-0 GAC)
Projected Starters: G-Gracie Nowak; 2. G-Olivia Riley; G-Abi Beem; F-Jenna Smith; F-Zena Latunski
Outlook: Morrice head coach Kris Smith expects the GAC to be a tough conference for the Orioles and the district to be even harder. Smith went as far to say there could be up to three top 10 teams in their district.
Smith still expects the Orioles to be among the top of the GAC. The Orioles’ greatest asset going into this season is their ability to push the pace and spread defenses out on the attack. Smith said the team’s success will depend largely on the Orioles’ ability to go on scoring runs.
Conference Favorite: Pewamo-Westphalia
Coach: Doug Hurst (8th season, 129-32)
Last Year: 16-4 (14-2 CMAC)
Players to watch: Kara Mahoney, Grace Graham
Outlook: The Wolfpack will be younger than last year’s squad that ran through the CMAC, but that doesn’t mean they’ll lack experience. While there are a handful of players making the jump from JV to varsity, the team also returns five players from last year’s roster; including three starters.
Wolfpack coach Doug Hurst said the team would rely on four-year varsity wing/forward Kara Mahoney and second-year varsity guard Grace Graham to take on leadership roles. The overall success of the team will depend on new players’ ability to step up. “We may take a few bumps to start out, but ultimately by mid-season I hope we can compete for the top part of the league,” Hurst said.
Conference Favorites: Stockbridge, Olivet
Coach: Tim Beebe (6th season, 66-38)
Last Year: 12-8 (8-4 GLAC)
Projected Starters: G-Alyssa Welsh; G-Emma Emmons; G/F-Liz Poirier; F-Maycee Demerly; C-Katie Kiger
Outlook: Following a season which saw the Ramblers finish second in the GLAC, expect Perry to once again be in the mix for top-two finish in the conference. The Ramblers feature a senior-heavy squad led by first-team all-GLAC guard Alyssa Welsh, who recently committed to SVSU. Welsh, along with fellow guard Emma Emmons’ ability to push the pace should be a huge asset to the Ramblers. One area of concern for Perry, though, is their defense as a whole, which coach Tim Beebe said “needs some work.”
Conference Favorites: Byron, New Lothrop
Coach: Theresa Marvin (6th season, 71-34)
Last Year: 17-3 (13-1 MMAC)
Projected Starters: G-Sarah Marvin; G-Makayla Clement; G-Raegan Forgie; F-Haley Hooley; C-Becky Marvin or Allison Hooley
Outlook: Byron will likely once again be a force in the MMAC. The Eagles return four of five starters, all of whom have multiple years of varsity experience. Coach Theresa Marvin praised her teams’ rebounding and versatile scoring ability as two strengths. Byron’s goal this season is compete for a league and district title. Marvin said the Eagles will have extra motivation going into the new year after their falling in the first round of districts last season.
Coach: Jim Perry (10th season, 164-40)
Last Year: 16-4 (13-1 MMAC)
Projected Starters: F/G-Brooke Wenzlik; G-Maddie Wheeler; G-Lauren Riley; F-Makayla Lienau; C-Caela Bushre
Outlook: Despite losing six seniors, New Lothrop still has league title aspirations this season.
According to coach James Perry the Hornets greatest strength coming into this season is their defense, which he described as the pride of the team. The biggest challenge for New Lothrop will likely be filling the roles left by the departing seniors and getting a young team experience early on.
Coach: Ryan Cunningham (13th season, 103-154)
Last Year: 11-9 (8-6 MMAC)
Projected Starters: G-Kiah Longoria; G-Caitlyn Walter; G-Braylon Byrnes; F-Madison Cunningham; C-Lauren Barton
Outlook: Ovid Elsie head coach Ryan Cunningham believes this will be a “competitive rebuilding year” for the Marauders. Ovid-Elsie is younger and less experienced team after graduating seven seniors last year. The good news is that the team’s top two scorers, center Lauren Barton and guard Caitlyn Walter, are both back. The duo averaged a combined 21.8 points per game last season. what the Marauders lack in experience they make up for in size. Seven of Ovid-Elsie’s 12 players are over 5-foot-6, which should pay dividends on the boards.
Coach: Cecil Cole (4th season, 31-33)
Last Year: 9-11 (5-9 MMAC)
Projected Starters: Kennedy Pawloski, Jordyn Lawrence, Riley Vandendries, Maddie Raley, Jessica Winslow
Outlook: Durand is another team that enters the season with a young, inexperienced roster after graduating four seniors. Also working against the Railroaders is the team’s lack of size outside of center Jessica Winslow. However, head coach Cecil Cole believes this team is deeper and faster than last year’s. If the Railroaders can find a few scoring options they could be a competitive player in the MMAC.
Coach: Ryan Ferry (4th season, 28-36)
Last Year: 12-8 (10-4)
Players to watch: Haylei Drope, Jordyn Bishop, Julia Bishop.
Outlook: Chesaning will look to build on a successful 2018-19 campaign which saw the Indians finish second in the MMAC. The Indians return eight seniors, including three four-year varsity players in Haylei Drope, Jordyn Bishop and Julia Bishop. Chesaning coach Ryan Ferry also believes his team will feature a good defense.
Standing in the way Chesaning’s title aspirations is a tough schedule and some early struggles with outside shooting.
Flint Metro League
Conference Favorites: Goodrich, Lake Fenton
Coach: Ron Birchmeier (9th season, 112-66)
Last Year: 18-2 (9-1)
Players to watch: Ellie Toney, Danielle French
Outlook: Corunna’s one of the new kids on the block in the Flint Metro League and features a different team from the one that ran through the GAC last season. Expect Corunna to take some time getting adjusted to the new conference and roster. The Cavs should be competitive by the end of the season.
Coach: Phil Gobel (1st season)
Last Year: 3-17 (3-13)
Players to watch: Reyn Tuttle, Alaynie Drury
Outlook: Owosso enters the season under new management as Phil Gobel takes over as the new head coach. Gobel — the long-time boys soccer coach for Owosso — expects the team be competitive every game this year. The Trojans are dealing with some injuries early on, however, so it may take some time for Owosso to get in rhythm on the court.