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New head coach looking for Menahga girls basketball team to peak in time for playoffs

As the lone senior, Katie Miller will be counted on to provide leadership for the Menahga girls basketball team. (Vance Carlson / Enterprise)

Steve Schreiber is using this year to build a solid foundation for the future of the Menahga girls basketball program.

With only five returning letterwinners, this could be another rebuilding season for the Braves, who finished with a 9-17 record last year.

"We are in the sorting out process right now. We are very young. This is a fundamentals and system learning year," said Schreiber, who was the Braves' assistant coach last season. "I've talked with the girls about the difference between being good and being great. I expect us to be at that great status within the next four years. As the kids move up the ranks, I think we can put a program together that will be a perennially great team."

Leading the Braves this season are senior guard Katie Miller, junior forward Lindsey White, junior forward Amelia Pho, sophomore guard Beth Tormanen and freshman guard Tarah Cleveland.

Cleveland led the Braves with 441 points and 105 steals and was third with 87 rebounds and 50 assists last season.

Miller led the team with 65 steals and was third in scoring with 218 points. Miller also had 63 assists and 43 rebounds last season.

White was second in rebounds with 93 and fourth in points with 127.

Pho was fifth in points with 115 and fifth in rebounds with 67.

Tormanen saw limited action last season, tallying 14 points and 11 steals.

Other players who saw some varsity action last season are sophomore center Patricia Haataja, sophomore guard Arielle Pihlaja, freshman center Bridget Taylor and freshman guard Maria Tormanen.

That group will be looking to replace the numbers lost by the graduation of Kati Neisess (235 points, 130 rebounds, 75 steals, 59 assists), Kendra Skoog (75 points, 69 rebounds), Leana Bruer (53 points) and Heather Tormanen (42 points, 74 rebounds).

"The two main expectations I have this year are that we work as hard as we can every day in practice and we continue to get better. If we do those two things, I think we will be 10 times the team we are now come the end of February," said Schreiber. "The keys to a successful year are that we understand the system and really build our fundamentals. We have the talent to be a .500 team or better if we can play smart basketball each game and keep working as hard as we have been."

If the players continue to improve, Schreiber is looking for the Braves to improve on last year's 3-9 record in the Park Region Conference and peak at the end of the season.

"I'm not passing this year off, but I need to see us grasping basic basketball concepts before I start counting wins," said Schreiber. "I expect us to be competitive come playoffs and maybe surprise a team or two. The girls are working harder than I ever expected and I already see major changes in attitude and skill level. I am very excited to be here coaching girls who really want to become a great team. If we play our best basketball in February, it will be a successful year."