By Sam Wilson
Small in numbers, every member of the Springville-Griffith Institute girls basketball will have a role to play if the Griffins reach their goals this season.
Last season, the Griffins finished 15-6. They graduated a pair of seniors, Grace Zabawa and Kelsey Zabawa. Ivette Lewandowski led Springville with 14.0 points per game, while Mackenzie Owens had 13.0 per game. Both leading scorers return to this squad, Lewandowski as a senior and Owens as just an eighth-grader.
The Griffins have four other seniors: Grace Attebery, Jessica Engel, Rachel O’Neal and Becca Oakley. Juniors Nyah Solly and Meg Rehrauer, along with Owens, bring the Springville roster to eight members.
“We have a very small team, as we only have eight on our active roster,” coach Bob Gainey said.
The Griffins hosted open gyms, run by Gainey and JV coach Kelly Owens, twice a week in the offseason and played in the Hamburg/Frontier Summer League to stay prepared. Springville started practicing more than two weeks ago and scheduled four scrimmages before the start of its regular season on Dec. 3.
So far, Gainey likes his team’s competitiveness.
“After being around this group for a few weeks it’s noticeable just how competitive the kids are when it comes down to practicing and preparing for games,” he said. “It seems like a group which is very anxious to get started for real in a couple weeks.”
Gainey said he considers every member of his team to have the “potential” to be a leader this season.
“I think Nyah Solly has a lot of potential to lead this team with her positive energy and incredible effort on both ends of the floor,” Gainey noted. “I think our leadership is dependent on how we ‘click’; as a team on and off the court. We have five seniors on our team whom have all been a part of our program for a number of years. I’m looking forward to that group providing the guidance we need to make a big run this season.”
Owens, in particular, made a splash last season as an impact player in just seventh grade.
“Mackenzie Owens has such a high ceiling in regards to her potential,” Gainey said. ”I’m expecting her to lead our team’s offensive attack and be a consistent threat from the perimeter to score.
“It’s pretty amazing what she accomplished as a 7th grader last season, I’m expecting her to make another jump in her play on defense as well. She has put a lot of time into her game, there is no offseason for that young lady. Going into this season Mackenzie has shown more consistency from the perimeter with her jump shot and her ball handling/finishing around the rim has improved tremendously as well.”
The Griffs tip-off on Tuesday at Wilson in non-league play. They close out the month with the annual Emerling Tournament in Springville, one of the last big tests before the league season starts in January.
Gainey isn’t looking too far ahead for goals the Griffins want to achieve.
“My goal for this team is to play hard every single night,” he said. “As long as we play together, play with an edge, and get stops then I think the sky is the limit for this group.
“I think a successful season can be accomplished by competing for a league championship, winning our Holiday Tournament, and making a run in the playoffs. I’m excited for the potential of this team.”