Girls basketball adjusts players, positions

Jonathan Lidskin, Zoe Bendoff, Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Freshman Brooke Blumenfeld (left) runs back on defense alongside senior Jamie Kempner in a game against Maine West on Jan. 11. Through their first 15 games, the team has a record of 4-11. Photo by Richard Chu.

Freshman Brooke Blumenfeld stepped out on the court with the varsity girls basketball team at their first game against Maine East this season. She had been pulled up from the freshman team, securing her spot on the varsity roster following the team’s win against Wauconda Community High School.

“I was on the bus … with the team and when we were getting off, [Danielle Fluegge, head varsity girls basketball coach], said ‘Blumenfeld, turn in your freshman jersey, you’re with us,’” Blumenfeld said.

Fluegge said she wanted to see how Blumenfeld, who is six feet tall, would play at the varsity level after Fluegge had been presented with a group of girls with strong chemistry yet lacking a height advantage during the preseason.

In the first 15 games, the team has a record of 4-11. Senior Faith Kim leads the team in points and rebounds with averages of 9.4 points per game 4.3 rebounds per game.

According to junior Jamie Joseph, Blumenfeld has helped the team improve their season by stepping up in the post position along with Kim.

Kim said the team has had to be flexible this season to get used to playing in positions that needed to be filled. The coaches have intensified drills to help the girls succeed in different positions.

“Our coaches base our practices on what they anticipate our competition to be doing in the next game,” said Kim. “If we know a team has the tendency to play in a zone, we will practice playing against a zone defense during our practices. We have made our practices specific to the skill sets and strengths of other teams so that we are more prepared when we play them in the actual game.”

According to Joseph, Fluegge has modified practices by introducing new plays and asking the girls to memorize them.

“[Fluegge has had to] adapt to the fact that we’re all guards and we all play on the outside and we’re good at driving in, so she’s definitely, I think, changed the plays and the things we practice too,” Joseph said.

Fluegge said the girls play hard in competitive drills during practice, but the most important thing is that the work put in during practices ultimately “needs to translate on the floor.” 

Senior Sammi Stoneburner said adjusting to having more post players has helped the team build up a stronger offense.

“We have been putting [an] emphasis on getting the ball to our posts because we are a guard-dominated team, and this will give us more options to score,” Stoneburner said.

According to Blumenfeld, Stoneburner and the other four senior captains have displayed strong leadership, calling team meetings to help motivate everyone and help first-year varsity players getacclimated, especially after games where the team did not play to their full potential.

Blumenfeld said that it took time for her to get used to playing with varsity because of the speed of the game.

“It’s a really different game,” said Blumenfeld. “For varsity, it’s much faster-paced, and I’m playing with people who’ve scored their thousandth point now, so it’s really different.”

Fluegge said the girls have had to battle tough crowds this year and she has been trying to inspire them to use their negative experiences as motivation.

“We played at Wauconda, and they had this awesome cheering section that was booing us,” said Fluegge. “Every time we shot a free throw they were trying to get in our heads, and the girls got a little rattled, and I said, ‘This is the stuff that, as athletes, this should fuel you.’”

According to Fluegge, the girls’ competitive nature is strong.

“We 100 percent are [competitive in conference], and I think our girls are starting to really believe that when they start playing well together.

“I think there’s definitely a certain amount of pressure where we feel like we need to make our mark now before we go over to the other side [of the conference],” Fluegge said.

Blumenfeld said the girls were able to beat Maine East at a tournament hosted by Saint Viator during winter break after a disappointing loss early on in the season.

“We have been getting really hyped up in the games and cheering for each other which really helps everyone play more aggressive and makes the game fun and intense,” Blumenfeld said.