High School Basketball – Girls Preview


The 2023-24 Girls Basketball season begins around Michigan today, here’s a look at our area girls teams.

2022-23 Record: 8-14 (4-3 SMAC West) – Lost in District Quarterfinals 48-52 to Mattawan

Head Coach: Jeff Wallace (10th season overall, 4th season back)

2023-24 Schedule:

12/4 vs. Bangor – 7:00 p.m.
12/7 vs. Lakeshore – 7:00 p.m.
12/12 vs. Gull Lake – 7:00 p.m.
12/15 vs. Mattawan – 7:00 p.m.
12/19 vs. Otsego – 7:00 p.m.
12/21 at Portage Central – 7:00 p.m.
1/8 at Benton Harbor – 6:00 p.m.
1/12 vs. Portage Northern – 7:00 p.m.
1/15 Buchanan – 7:00 p.m.
1/16 at Battle Creek Central – 7:00 p.m.
1/18 vs. Kalamazoo Central – 7:00 p.m.
1/23 vs. Battle Creek Lakeview – 7:00 p.m.
1/26 at Lakeshore – 7:00 p.m.
1/30 vs. Niles – 7:00 p.m.
2/1 vs. Portage Central – 7:00 p.m.
2/6 at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix – 7:00 p.m.
2/9 at Mattawan – 7:00 p.m.
2/15 at Portage Northern – 7:00 p.m.
2/22 at Kalamazoo Central – 7:00 p.m.
2/27 at Battle Creek Harper Creek – 7:00 p.m.
2/29 at Brandywine – 7:00 p.m.

St. Joe was a team in transition in 2022-23. The Lady Bears just came off of 14-4 regular season, that included a SMAC West Division Championship. But like any high school team, seniors graduate, and the ones St. Joe lost were a key part to that success.

The Bears last year only had two starting seniors, and had six sophomores on the varsity, so needless to say St. Joe was a young team.

This year, the Lady Bears gain some leadership, just from the hallways of the school. Ella Dykstra, who has signed to play soccer at Division 1 Kentucky this fall has come out to play basketball for the first time in her high school career. The athletic senior will provide that same role as now Lake Michigan College soccer and basketball player Eleah Hedstrom did.

The Lady Bears gain a little height on the roster this season with sisters Grace and Ava Rommel, Grace a senior and Ava a junior both stand a 5’11, will be key for the Bears on the glass. Other players retuning for the Bears are seniors Bella Johnson, 5’10 G. Juniors, Tess Kapeke (5’8 G), Charly Shell (5’6 G), Megan Painter (5’6 G).

New to the program for St. Joe is Lavisha Chandivade (5’6 Sr. G.), Dykstra (5’7, Sr. G). Playing more varsity time will be Meghan Meier (5’6, Sr. G), Bridget Nuter (5’6 Sr. G), Alex Reyes (5’7, Jr. F), Alana Razor (5’6, So, G), and Jillian Conybeare (5’5, So, G).

Coach Wallace St. Joe will have to play fast on both ends of the floor to have a successful season, and says the Lady Bears strength this season is depth on the perimeter.

He said in addition to the SMAC West Division games, St. Joe’s games against Kalamazoo Central, Buchanan and Brandywine are keys game on the schedule.

Wallace expects Lakeshore to be on top of the SMAC West, with Kalamazoo Central winning the SMAC East but also the conference as well.

St. Joe has a very unbalanced schedule for the season, with their first five games all at home. St. Joe’s lake home game is February 1st, with the last six games all on the road, with 5 of those to the Kalamazoo area and beyond.

When asked about the new foul/free throw rule. Wallace says. “Time will tell – my initial impressions are that it will increase the number of free throws shot overall, and takes away some strategic possibilities in end-game situations.”

St. Joe tips off the season at home against Bangor tonight.

2022-23 Record: 16-7 (6-1 SMAC West) – Lost in District Final 25-45-56 to Kalamazoo Central

Head Coach: Michael Clare (8th season)

2023-24 Schedule:

12/5 at Edwardsburg – 7:00 p.m.
12/7 at St. Joseph – 7:00 p.m.
12/12 vs. TBA – 7:00 p.m.
12/15 vs. Portage Northern – 7:00 p.m.
12/19 at Berrien Springs – 7:00 p.m.
12/21 at Mattawan – 7:00 p.m.
1/5 vs. Niles – 7:00 p.m.
1/9 vs. Otsego – 7:00 p.m.
1/12 vs. Battle Creek Central – 7:00 p.m.
1/16 at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix – 7:00 p.m.
1/18 at Portage Central – 7:00 p.m.
1/23 vs. Kalamazoo Central – 7:00 p.m.
1/26 vs. St. Joseph – 7:00 p.m.
2/1 vs. Mattawan – 7:00 p.m.
2/6 at Gull Lake – 7:00 p.m.
2/9 at Portage Northern – 7:00 p.m.
2/12 at Benton Harbor – 6:00 p.m.
2/15 at Battle Creek Central – 7:00 p.m.
2/20 vs. Dowagiac – 7:00 p.m.
2/22 vs. Portage Central – 7:00 p.m.
2/27 at Vicksburg – 7:00 p.m.
2/29 vs. Buchanan – 7:00 p.m.

It’s taken Lakeshore and coach Michael Clark a few years to bring Lady Lancers basketball back to the level where they could not only compete, but also win the SMAC West Division but also a district title. Last year the Lancers completed that first goal. Lakeshore won the SMAC West Division title last year, with a 16-7 record, and 6-1 in the SMAC West. The Lancers missed out on that second goal by falling to Kalamazoo Central in the District Finals.

Lakeshore returns six players from last years squad, most importantly four of their five starters from that team as well.

Lakeshore’s returning starters are all juniors this season, Paige Lies (G) who averaged 14 points per game last season. Emily Lockman (F), averaged 12 points per game, Megan Wurster (G), averaged 9 points a game, and Helaina Mihalik (G). The two other returners are seniors Taylor Davis (F), and Pallas Dominion (G).

Other new additions to the Lancer varsity squad this season include, Senior forward Madalynn Schmidt, junior forward Kayann Lange, junior guards Kaitlyn Dohn, Lily Kleiman, and Preslee Perkins. Lakeshore’s lone underclassman on the varsity is sophomore guard Avery Vroon.

Clark tells us. “We will look to play quick and aggressive this year on both sides of the ball. With the talent and athleticism this team brings we hope to create turnovers on defense that will lead to a quick offensive transition.”

Lakeshore’s team strengths this season will be their quickness, and how aggressive they are, plus the experience coming back as four starters are back. Clark also says his team is athletic and will apply pressure defense.

Clark points to the Lancers season opener at Edwardsburg, both games against St. Joseph, Portage Central, and Mattawan, as well as games with Battle Creek Lakeview, Vicksburg, and Kalamazoo Central are the key dates on the Lancers schedule.

He said in addition to his team, Mattawan and Portage Central are favorites in the SMAC-West.

With the new foul free throw rule, “It’ll be interesting…it will definitely change strategy and in-game adjustments each quarter.”

Clark concludes by saying, “Really looking forward to season ahead. We have an amazing group of girls that I’m excited to work with and see grow and develop!”

Lakeshore opens the season on Tuesday at Edwardsburg against former St. Joe, Ferris State and Valparaiso head women’s coach Tracey Bloodworth.

We reached out multiple times to the coaches at Benton Harbor, Our Lady of the Lake, Countryside Academy and Michigan Lutheran but they did not reply.