Gielczyk: Glen Lake Putting in the Work this Summer
Glen Lake’s girls basketball team won the Northwest Michigan Conference title last year with a 13-1 record despite starting two freshmen, a sophomore and a junior.
Unfortunately, the Lakers’ youth showed up in the district tournament where they were defeated by Manton, a team many expected to make the quarterfinals but lost to Lake City and didn’t reach the regional.
The Lakers, who finished an impressive 18-3 overall, are using last year’s quick exit in the tournament as motivation toward this coming season as they work out this summer.
After participating in a two-day shootout at Frankfort where they competed against some quality teams with a tradition of success and went undefeated, the Lakers went to Kingsley for one day.
“We’ve had a good summer so far,” Glen Lake head coach Jason Bradford said. “You never know who is missing or who isn’t with summer ball. But, I like what I’ve seen from the girls on defense and the way we’re moving the ball.
“I’d say we’re a step ahead of where we were last year already. It’s exciting. We went down to Grand Valley for three days where we saw a lot of good competition. We ended up winning our bracket.”
The Lakers beat Zeeland West on their last day at Grand Valley, and also saw Lake City and Ionia.
Bradford said he felt the girls improved during the three days of the camp, showing a lot of growth and have learned what they need to work on the rest of the summer.
One of the incoming sophomores who started last year as a freshman is the coach’s daughter, Grace Bradford. The other is Jessica Robbins, with incoming junior Grace Fosmore also coming back.
Glen Lake successfully fought off Kingsley and Benzie Central to take the league crown last year, but are aware they can’t rest on their laurels. They’ll have a target on their back as the defending champs and will need to stay on top of their game.
Liliana Valkner and Sara Baarstad are the other seniors on the squad, which also includes juniors Millie Foglesong, Becca Nowicki, Tarah Connell, Emmar Korson, Lizzie Brown and Hailey Helling as well as freshman Ruby Hogan.
Korson played the last two years on the junior varsity and will be vying for a starting spot. Coach Bradford said she’s a good shooter, and could earn early playing time.
It’ll be a different looking Glen Lake team this season.
“Last year we had a big post player,” said Bradford. “The last two years prior to that I had a lot of girls who could score in transition so we pushed the ball a lot.
“Not too many set plays. We ran a couple different motions, with the one post girl inside. We’re kind of back to where we were when we made our two runs, one to the Breslin Center (in East Lansing) and then Calvin College.
“We’re scoring in transition a lot, and we pride ourselves on our defense, and scoring easy buckets off that. We run a five out, with a lot of cutting and ball screens.”
Bradford typically runs a man-to-man defense, occasionally throwing a zone against some teams.
“The girls really bought into it,” Bradford says. “This group I have we ran kind of a 2-3 zone, and it was impressive. It had the other coaches trying to change things up.
“Everyone will be shooting for us, which is great. You always get a good game. You’re getting the best of the best each night you go out there. That helps the girls in the long run.”
Glen Lake is poised to have another great season, and has its sights set on making another run at the state championship game.
Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for story ideas.