Talented Junior Class Leading Gayord St. Mary
GAYLORD – With a trio of juniors leading the way, the Gaylord St. Mary girls basketball team finds itself right where it wants to be as the regular season reaches its midpoint.
After an opening-season, 61-43, loss to Clare in November, the Snowbirds have run off seven straight wins and find themselves atop the Ski Valley Conference standings after a 5-0 start in league play.
St. Mary has gotten off to its quick start despite facing a size disadvantage on a near-nightly basis and having the services of just one senior.
"Every night, frankly, when we walk on the floor, we are never the bigger team, and so it’s just about having the discipline to box out, get the rebound with both hands, take care of business that way,” veteran coach Dan Smith said. "Gabby Schultz is our only senior and then we have several juniors. They’re all good ballplayers. We’ve got nine kids that can play basketball. Love every one of them. It’s just a matter of getting that chemistry in the right spot."
Guards Alex Hunter and Averi Bebble along with Emily Myler at the post anchor a strong junior class for St. Mary.
"These kids have been playing a fast game their whole lives, and it’s in their DNA. It’s what they love to do, and it’s what they do best,” Smith said. "(Averi) Bebble, (Alex) Hunter and (Gabby) Schultz played several minutes for us last year, so we have three veterans from last year’s team. But we’ve got a long way to go. We’re still putting the pieces together. Trying to finish up. (Emily) Myler, she’s really progressing in the post. Once we get her filling in full time, we’ll be in good shape.”
After reaching the Class D state quarterfinals for the third time in five years last season, the Snowbirds, who have amassed a 104-17 record over the last five seasons, are taking it one step at a time this season and are first looking to claim a SVC which has proven elusive the last two seasons.
"Making a run in the tournament allows the kids to understand what it feels like,” Smith said. “The level of speed, the level of competition that it takes, the level of intensity. Our goal is to win the Ski Valley Conference for sure. After that, we’ll just see what happens."
St. Mary faces its biggest test of the season Wednesday, when it welcomes in Class D No. 6 Bellaire (6-1, 4-0).