Young, talented girls varsity basketball team is poised for breakout year


The girls varsity basketball team comes off of a 14-7 (10-2) record and second-place OK White finish last season with a fresh roster full of talented, young players.

“A lot of the girls have experience, just not on the varsity team,” said four-year varsity player and two-year captain senior Claire Baguley. “Honestly I think the biggest thing will be getting the nerves out for the first few games and learning to all work together. [The younger players] definitely have the talent, we just have to mesh playing together.”

Claire will be a key player to this year’s team, as she is the only returning starter from last year’s senior-heavy lineup. She was the leading-scorer with 15 points per game, and she was the second-leading rebounder for the season. Because Claire is one of the few returners to have quality minutes on court, the team will have to almost entirely rebuild.

“Claire is a four-year varsity player; she will be key as a leader and as our returning leading scorer,” third-year head coach Kristina Prins said. “She is the sole captain this season and will be looked to to really lead the team.”

Last season, FHC had losses to Northview and Lowell the first time through the conference before going 6-0 the second time through, including thrilling wins over Forest Hills Northern and Forest Hills Eastern to go undefeated against Forest Hills schools.

After starting almost every game hot, the girls would fall into third-quarter slumps game after game and lose a lead that had been established in the first half. Toward the end of the season, the Rangers were able to stray from this habit, but it will still be a big focus this year to keep high energy throughout all four quarters.

“We are going to look to attack hard each and every quarter and never take a play off,” Prins said. “We will look to get after it from the get-go and hopefully we have the right players in the right positions to really excel and avoid that third-quarter slump.”

A strong point last season was the Rangers’ defense. A combination of quick and agile players pressing with others playing zone under the basket proved to overpower many offenses. FHC looks to continue this trend and even improve on the defensive side of the ball.

“We want to just completely overwhelm the opposing team’s offense,” Claire said. “We put a big emphasis on defense, so I think we will continue to do well on that side of the floor.”

A fresh line up has redefined FHC’s gameplay, which will now emphasize the many talented shooters and offensive threats the team has. Freshmen Theryn Hallock and Remmie Ingraham will be big contributions due to overall basketball knowledge and impressive skill. Theryn has a very smooth shot, and her athleticism on defense is overwhelming to opponents. Remmie is a tall guard who can both shoot from outside and take it to the rim. She can also guard nearly anyone due to her length. Both players will greatly impact FHC’s starting five.

“My role this year as a freshman is to be a leader myself and push people to do their best,” Theryn said. “I will contribute [to the team] by going out of my comfort zone and always being one of the first people in the gym and the last out.”

Sophomore Brittney Probst, who played a couple games on varsity last season, will also be an asset with her quickness and agility, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.

In addition to the new players, the varsity team returns plenty of talent. Claire and seniors Danielle Balanda, Charlotte Delaney, and Kaitlyn Piontkowsky – who will all look to gain more playing time after hard work in the off season – will be the leaders for this overall inexperienced team. Charlotte will bring a lot to the post position this season while Kaitlyn is a spark for the team by giving every play her full effort, as described by Prins.

“I know that everyone really looks up to our senior class as leaders and they really push us to get better,” sophomore Zoe Lipke said.

Zoe is returning for her second year on varsity, after an impressive freshman season as a point guard. She will contribute to the team once again this year with her ball handling and hot hand from behind the arc, as well as her calmness throughout intense gameplay. Junior Ally Ringler also returns, as she was pulled up early last year from JV. Ally brings a high level of energy to the court and has a feel for making shots in clutch moments.

“I really don’t think that the age difference will affect our team,” said Zoe about the four-year age range on the roster. “We have good leaders from each grade and we have all already become really close.”

A major team goal this year will be to take advantage of rebuilding years for conference opponents in order to make a run at the OK White title and even the District Championship. Non-conference opponents East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood will be big challenges for the Rangers. EK blew the Rangers out in the second game of the season last year, and EGR beat FHC twice, once to knock the Rangers out of the playoffs.

Conference opponents Northview and Forest Hills Northern will be the biggest competition for FHC in the OK White. The Rangers went 1-1 against the Wildcats last year, with the loss coming in the final seconds. Against the rival Huskies, the games are typically always competitive and although the Rangers went 2-0 last year, one of those wins came off of a buzzer-beating three-pointer to win by 1.

“We’re looking to go undefeated throughout the whole conference and win,” Claire said. “Last year we lost in the last few seconds to Northview, which was why we got second instead of tying Lowell for first. I still think about that game and I can’t wait to go out there and win it all this year.”

Promising new players combined with skilled returners have the Lady Rangers poised for a breakout season. If the talented individuals can play as a united team, FHC will be a very tough team to beat this season on their tour to take the OK White.

“Our young team will not at all limit our success this season because we have so much experience and talent,” Claire said. “I’m really excited for the potential of this team and I know we can be really good.”