In the midst of yet another dismal season a year ago, the Muskie senior girls’ basketball team did something they hadn’t done for quite some time--they won a regular-season game.
The win snapped a long losing streak that had extended over several seasons, and showed the senior girls’ squad was starting to turn the corner.
In fact, the Muskie hoopsters beat Dryden a second time last year to finish at 2-6. But because of a rule change, eliminating the third-place team from the NorWOSSA playoffs, the team’s dramatic turnaround went for nought.
"We became a victim of the experiment last year," coach Gord McCabe said of the changed playoff format. "Which was unfortunate because I think we would have given Kenora a good battle, and I feel we had passed Dryden."
Still, while the senior girls had gelled into a very competitive basketball team, including a silver-medal performance at a Thunder Bay tournament, McCabe is left to rebuild his team this season after losing seven players to graduation.
"We have some pretty major losses but we also have some real solid players back this year," he noted. "Players like Hannah Carter and Karen Harris should give us a strong inside game."
Lacking the toughness of Christine Borden and the outside shooting of Julie Summers, McCabe said he’ll be looking towards players like Missy Hughes, Erin McIvor, Edith McCormick and Laureen Cousineau to step up this season.
One player who may make the biggest difference on the senior squad this season is Cousineau, who dominated offensively at the junior level last year.
"I’m hoping [Cousineau] can make the adjustment from the junior level to the much quicker senior level," said McCabe.
But McCabe also noted he hasn’t determined who will start at the small forward or shooting guard positions, adding "several players" are still in contention for those positions.
Still, with all three teams making the NorWOSSA playoffs again this year, McCabe will be striding to get his team playing at their optimum level by mid-November.
"You still take the regular-season games seriously but you want to make sure you finish at a high level," he noted.
The girls will hit the court for their first action when they travel to Dryden for a tournament Sept. 19-20.