BY DAN STICKRADT
WATERFORD — How do you put together a repeat performance from last year when that performance included a stellar 23-2 record and a trip to the Class A state quarterfinals?
Return most of your players, for starters.
And two, keep playing with your bread and butter, which is smart basketball with stingy defense and always go after the ball mentality.
Waterford Kettering is one of those teams. The Captains sailed to another highly-successful season in 2014-15 and should be a team quite capable of putting together similar success this winter.
Kettering lost only two games last season, dropping a double overtime to Plymouth Salem (47-40) in the KLAA Conference championship game and falling short to Birmingham Marian (51-42) in the Class A state quarterfinals.
“We have three returning starters and seven returning players, so we do have experience. But we are still young,” said coach Scott Woodhull, who bolsters a fine 352-93 career coaching record. “We could be very good at times but we could struggle occasionally as the younger players gain experience.”
Kettering, which won the KLAA North Division last season at 10-0 and are the heavy favorites again this season, has been consistent under Woodhull, who coached the Captains from 1999-2001 and returned in 2007 to the present.
Kettering reached the state semifinals in both 1999 and 2000, both times falling to then-nationally-ranked Lansing Everett (60-47 and 54-46). Since his return, Woodhull guided the Captains to the Elite Eight in 2013 and 2015.
“We’ve had some good teams over the years. Could we be good again this year? Well certain things that to must take place for that to happen. We always have expectations,” noted Woodhull.
The only players to depart via graduation were 5-11 guard Julia Kroll and 5-11 forward Lauren Tewes.
The three returning starters include 5-11 senior guard Haley Tewes, who is being courted by Division II Gannon University after averaging 7.0 points an 5.0 assists last season; along with 5-10 senior guard Emily Bernas and 6-0 junior forward Lillia Schoof, who put up 7.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per outing last season. Schoof has improved vastly and hopes to put up bigger numbers in the post this season.
Sophomore Marnae Holland, a 5-10 guard, and 5-3 senior guard Sammi Shaner, a feisty on-the-ball defender, have moved into starting roles this season.
Off the bench, 5-8 junior guard Maddie Kase, 5-8 sophomore forward Alyssa Watts, also a standout soccer player, 6-2 sophomore center Marissa Brady and 5-7 sophomore guard Jayla Williams will all see increased roles. Another player that will see minutes is 5-7 freshman guard Ashley Watson.
Brady is a “relentless” post player who can change the game when on the floor. Watson is an up-and-coming talent who has impressed in the early stages.
“We have some things to work on, some things I have challenged some players on— some things I would like to see,” noted Woodhull, whose team is 2-0 through Dec. 13, including a 36-34 victory over Marian. “We have a long ways to go. But the pieces are there for us to have another strong season.”