Another season has brought more lofty expectations for Badin High School’s girls basketball team.
The Rams return the majority of their roster from a 2016-17 squad that went 19-8, shared the Greater Catholic League Coed Central Division title with McNicholas and lost to Versailles in the Division III regional semifinals.
Badin has moved up to Division II this year and into a sectional that figures to be brutal.
“Our goals are high, but we’re taking it one step at a time,” 10th-year Rams coach Tom Sunderman said. “I don’t want the girls looking too far ahead. Our sectional is not an easy sectional, but we talk about how you can control some of that destiny by your regular season.
“It’s important that we set the tone early. It’s important that we don’t lose the close games we lost last year. Those games are the difference between being a 1 seed and controlling what you’re doing and being a 4 seed and picking your poison.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
Still a youthful squad with just two seniors, Badin has four 6-footers and returns its top three scorers — 6-1 junior forwards Emma Broermann (10.8) and Claire McCurley (6.4), along with 6-0 sophomore guard Shelby Nusbaum (10.2).
Broermann and McCurley both shot better than 50 percent from the floor and combined for nearly 12 rebounds per game last year. Nusbaum came off the bench, yet was arguably the Rams’ most dynamic player.
Sunderman said increased mobility from Broermann and McCurley should help Badin elevate its game in 2017-18.
“That was one of the things where we got exposed last year, and we talked about that with Claire and Emma a lot in the offseason,” Sunderman said. “They took it seriously. Versailles matched up with us in the post last year, and their posts were two steps faster. That’s where we got beat.
“Emma has picked up three steps from last year. She’s also had some nagging injuries the last two years, and I think she’s completely beyond those. Claire’s not a strong practice player, but when the game starts, she’ll go get a loose ball and rebound well. If she could learn to finish, that would make Emma even more dominant because it’ll take the heat off of her.”
Nusbaum will move into the starting lineup with Broermann and McCurley. Junior guards Macy Harper (5-5) and Grace Larkin (5-10) are also returning starters, and 5-7 junior guard Emily Maher is expected to play a key role as well after finishing strong last season.
Harper will be the primary point guard. Sunderman said Larkin made big strides with her shooting in the offseason.
“Size will be our asset, so we’re going to take advantage of that,” the BHS coach said. “The mid-range jumper is more of an emphasis for us than the 3-pointer. I think we’ll have the ability to put some shots in from the outside, but our strength is inside first, and if it’s not there, then get it back outside.
“The good part is for a lot of these kids, this is their third year in practice with me and the coaches, so it’s not a lot of adding stuff. It’s more fine-tuning and getting better at what we do.”
Sunderman said the rotation beyond the top six players is uncertain. Senior guard Anna Cantwell (5-2) is a defensive specialist, 6-1 senior forward Lizzie Kolde missed last season with an injury and is recovering from an ankle issue, and sophomore guards Jaelynn Scowden (5-5) and Emma Adams (5-4) have little varsity experience.
“We’ve got to have some kind of depth,” Sunderman said. “We can’t rely on six players all year, not with the schedule we play.
“We do want to push it. One of the big focal points has been taking advantage of our size and controlling the defensive boards. If we can control the defensive boards, then we can create a transition game. Also, we know we’re going to see 80 percent zone this year … we saw a lot of zone in the second half of the year last season. We’ve got to be able to score before people set up their zone.”
He believes the GCLC as a whole will be stronger this year. In the Central, Sunderman said Roger Bacon is stockpiling talent and is a team to watch.
Badin’s season opener will be a night game against visiting Preble Shawnee on Nov. 25.