Yellow Jackets, Wildcats ready for season openers

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 2:51 pm on Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Greenville senior Mackenzy looks to make a pass during a game last year at Cornerstone University. The Yellow Jackets open the season vs. Cedar Springs tonight.

GREENVILLE — After three weeks of practice and a couple of scrimmages the Greenville Yellow Jackets girls basketball team is ready to put their skills to test in an actual game.

They get that chance tonight as the Yellow Jackets host the Cedar Springs Red Hawks in nonconference play. Greenville coach Eric Nichols said his team is anxious to get on the court.

“I think we are ready to play. The girls are excited,” he said. “It’s been a long preseason and they are ready to go.”

The Yellow Jackets return their top two scorers from a year ago in Mackenzy Nichols (10 points and 3 assists per game) and Leah Somerfield (10 points and nine rebounds per game). They also return Katie Dunham and Anna Ralph.

With a new coach this season the Yellow Jackets are adjusting well to changes in offensive and defensive philosophies.

“I think the girls are adapting to some new Xs and Os and that has been a good thing,” Nichols said. “We are doing a few things differently, but so far so good.”

Greenville scrimmaged at Big Rapids last week in preparation for the season. They faced the Cardinals, Lakeview, Tri County and Sparta.

Tonight, the Red Hawks feature a dominant force inside.

“They come in with a veteran post player. She has been on the varsity for four years,” Nichols said. “They will come in with some good perimeter kids. They are well coached with the new staff and they will know what they want to do.”

Rebounding will be key for the Yellow Jackets.

“We have to make sure defensively we control the glass,” Nichols said. “That will be our biggest focal point all year long. Then we have to take care of the ball on the offensive end.”

Game time is 7 p.m.

Wildcats host Evart

The Lakeview Wildcats were young last season (9-13 overall), but gained plenty of experience. Although still young the Wildcats get a chance to see their gains with a home game against the Evart Wildcats.

Lakeview returns seven players from last years team including Alex King, Liz Nielsen, Jenna Waite, Chelsea Lint, Andrea Henry, Megan Leach and Estelle Molitor.

“We been getting better everyday,” Lakeview coach Corey Kohler said of practice. “We are still a young team, but we do have more experience. We have quite a few players back, but it’s hard to gauge where we are at.”

The Wildcats scrimmaged on Nov. 22 against Greenville, Big Rapids, Mason County Central and Tri County.

“It was all pretty even competition,” Kohler said. “We played hard and that’s all I ask of them early in the year. Overall, we are making improvements.”

Lakeview and Evart met a year ago to start the season. Lakeview won 54-34. Andrea Henry and Megan Leach each scored 11 points.

“We are ready to go and the kids are excited,” Kohler said. “I’m just looking for them to hustle. We will probably make some mental mistakes and that is OK as long as they are going hard.”

Kohler said his team is small, but will try to make up for it with their running ability.

“Our strength has to be our ability to run,” he said. “I think we are a better than average shooting team, we are just small.”

Game time tonight is at 7:30 p.m.

Other games

Belding at Kent City, 7 p.m.; Carson City-Crystal at Central Montcalm, 7 p.m. and Clare at Montabella, 7 p.m.

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