Gielczyk: Frankfort Looks to Build off 13-Win Campaign
Frankfort’s girls basketball team watched the boys make it to the state championship game last year, and they’d like to do the same this season.
In order to do so the Panthers will need to notch their seventh straight district title, and win only their second regional title in the last five years.
A tall order to be sure, but one long time Panthers’ head coach Tim Reznich fully believes they’re capable of pulling off.
“I’m really excited about this group,” Reznich said. “We have a good mix (of) four seniors, three juniors and three sophomores.
“Then there’s a couple more sophomores that may help out before the end of the season. I’m carrying 10, and all 10 are going to get significant minutes every night.
“It’s nice. We have 10 real good athletes, and we’re all on the same page. This particular group, I think it’s something special. It’s going to be a real fun year.”
But, it hasn’t started out that way.
Frankfort is 0-2 at this writing, and that’s not the kind of debut that will stoke the fires among the faithful.
Still, it must be remembered that it’s early in the season, and there’s plenty of time for the Panthers to get their act together.
“We had a tough one with (Traverse City) St. Francis (a 45-44 loss), but I was really happy with our execution,” Reznich said. “We had every possible chance in the world, and we just let it slip.
“But, there were a lot of positives to take from that game. And one of them was the positive energy coming from the girls.
“Whether they were in the game or on the bench, I didn’t hear a single negative comment all night long. They were disappointed after the game, but even then they were saying the right things.”
Just about all of the Panthers have the potential to have big nights, but there are some that stand out as major contributors and team leaders.
One of those is junior Reagan Thorr, who was All-State Honorable Mention in Division 4 last year and is expected to develop even more this season.
The Panthers have great senior leadership, too, starting with Hayley Myers.
“She’s just an incredible athlete,” Reznich remarked. “I know she has already signed with Aquinas for softball, but her ability goes beyond just softball.
“Her demeanor on the athletic playing field is extremely valuable to whatever team she’s on.”
Emily Loney, another junior and the last of the Loneys, has been stepping up to be a leader on the floor as well as in the locker room.
Another key senior is Abby Hodge, who is one of the Panthers’ post players and is stepping up to make the most of her final season.
Reznich coaching philosophy hasn’t changed since he first took the helm about 17 years ago, and that is the Panthers are going to come at you.
What makes it nice this year is that all of the Panthers can get up and down the floor to set a fast pace, and push the tempo.
The Panthers plan on pressing their opponent every minute of the game, creating offense from their defense.
But, they need to finish better than they have the first two games of the regular season. They can’t leave opportunities out on the court.
“Our girls have bought into that philosophy of ‘We’re coming at you.'” said Reznich. “I think it’s a confidence builder for them that they can do that.
“We’re hoping to score as much as possible in transition, keep the opponent moving,” Reznich said. “Using that speed again, we’re hoping to spread teams out if they do stop us in the half court.
“Spread them out and try to take advantage of our speed with good, hard cuts. So, a lot of basic motion stuff. They’re still learning. It’s a work in progress.”
The Panthers have some shooters, too, which is nice to mix in. So, if teams are packing it in, the Panthers have girls who can knock down shots.
Frankfort has a lot of length, and is athletic and aggressive to be strong under the basket.
Rebounding is a team concept, and the Panthers have a number of girls who are capable of doing it.
Which is fine with Reznich, who wouldn’t be upset if the Panthers didn’t have one clear cut rebounder, but rebound by committee.
“Of course, we would love to win the (Northwest) conference, but these 20 games, this is basically practice to get ready for the tournament,” Reznich said.
The Panthers hope practice makes perfect.
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 email@example.com for story ideas.