HOWELL — After an offseason of workouts, travel basketball, team camps and, finally, training camp, the 2017-18 season is here.
The Howell girls basketball team is ready.
“Coach O has been kicking out butts in practice,” senior guard Paige Johnson said. “I’ll take scrimmages over practice right now, because practice is so hard. So, yeah, it’s exciting to get out there on the floor and put all this practice stuff to work.”
The Highlanders (18-4 last season) take on St. Johns (10-12) in Tuesday’s season opener at St. Johns. The game will be broadcast on The Livingston Post.
“It’s a tough challenge,” Howell coach Tim Olszewski said. “They’re a very good team, very well-coached. We’re going to their gym, and it’s going to be a great test for us early.”
It will be one of many for the Highlanders, who have road games at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, a Class B power, and DeWitt in the early going.
“We want to be challenged and put ourselves out there early,” Olszewski said, “especially on the road, to combat the travel tim and get used to playing in unfamiliar (gyms). For us, it’s a great way to check our mental aptitudes and see how well we get ready.”
The Highlanders have all five starters returning from last season, and four of them — Johnson, Lexie Miller, Leah Weslock and Amanda Corsten —are coming in with at least two years of varsity experience under their belts. Another starter, Kaylee Wendel, started as a freshman last year and Howell looks to have a strong bench this season as well.
“Our practices weren’t as much teaching or going over the basics,” Olszewski said. “They already knew it. They knew the language and knew what we were supposed to do. So we were able to focus on getting better right away.”
And now, after three weeks of practice, the Highlanders see where they’re at.
“it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Corsten said, “because everyone’s excited for the season and we’re worked really hard for it.”
The combination of talent and experience has a few observers touting Howell as one of the state’s top teams in Class A going into the season.
“There are a lot of expectations and partly rightfully so, because we have so many girls returning that played for us last year and the year before,” Olszewski said. “But none of that matters. What matters to us is that we play hard and continue to get better. It’s so early to try and say this team, this team this team. We have to go out and worry about ourselves and play hard.”
“Whatever they say, they say,” Corsten said. “We’re always gong to work hard and try our best. Just go out there and kill it.”