The pandemic-shortened basketball season has brought a whole different set of challenges for layers and coaches.
“We’re still trying to figure things out,” Brighton coach Paul Ash said. “We were talking about, as a staff, how much coaching we’re doing this season. But these kids are anxious to be a good team, and I think we have the talent to eventually be a good team.”
Howell (3-1) is on a different path. In the interim between the first start of workouts in November and the start of the season nearly three months later, the Highlanders lost three starters. But coach Tim Olszewski has fashioned a lineup that has adapted and stepped up to the challenge, winning its last three in a row after an opening-night loss to Hartland.
“It’s a young group, but we’re scrappy,” coach Tim Olszewski says. “I’n very proud of them. “We’ve been rebounding and getting stops when we need them.”
The teams meet tonight at Howell High School in a game that will be broadcast on The Livingston Post. Click here for a link.
“The girls are really buying into playing the way that past teams have played,” Olszewski added.
It helps, too, that one of the returning starters is Maeve St. John, the junior point guard who has been a linchpin for the Highlanders this season and last.
“She may be one of the best players in the state,” Ash said. “And the players around her are starting to figure out their roles. When you’re well coached and have a player of that caliber, that’s a dangerous combination.”
The Bulldogs (2-2) were short three players last week due to contact tracing. One of them, Sarah Ebel, returned Tuesday night and led Brighton with 12 points in an easy win against Plymouth.
“We’re back to full strength, and that will definitely help us,” Ash said. “We still have an inexperienced team. We’re still teaching a lot of things as we go.”
And both coaches are doing it in a schedule that features as many as three games a week, which limits practice time.
“We just want to get better each game,” Ash said. “I’m sure Tim feels the same way. This season is a sprint instead of a marathon. For the kids, it’s more fun to play games. As coaches, we like practice. That’s where we see the growth. Kids just want to play.”
A Howell win would keep the Highlanders a game behind first-place Hartland, while a loss would lengthen the odds Brighton could contend for the division title.
“Last year, we split with Brighton, and we felt pretty good about that,” Olszewski said. “It’s a great gauge for where we’re at as a team. We have a lot of sophomores, and we’re starting against a team that has a little more experience.”