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MOOSEHEART, IL Nov. 20 – While roster size is hardly the most important factor in the success or failure of any athletic team – there's no denying that the full team benches Mooseheart's girls basketball team will have this season are a definite benefit.
A year ago, the Ramblers went through the season with six players, starters and one substitute, and while the team never gave up through four months of short-handed competition, Mooseheart also did not win a game, ending the year with an 0-22 record.
"After coming off last season and having a winless season, we looked at what we accomplished on and off the court," Mooseheart girls basketball coach Bryan Miller said. "Part of competition is winning. Most coaches will tell you that you win more from losing, so therefore we learned a lot last year."
Facing another strong schedule of Northeastern Athletic Conference teams, Little Ten nonconference foes and a strong field in the season-opening Elgin Academy tournament, the Ramblers have an uphill battle as they seek consistency and success in 2013-14.
Mooseheart opened its season on Wednesday (Nov. 20) when it played Willows Academy in opening round play at Elgin Academy. The Ramblers face either Elgin or Woodlands Academy on Thursday's second round of games in a tournament that concludes on Friday.
"We want to win and we want to be successful," Miller said. "We'd like to be at the top of the conference, but we have a lot of team goals that we want to attain and winning is definitely one of those. It's not the No. 1 priority, but it's up there. Our conference is always tough but at the same time, our nonconference schedule is going to present some challenges for us too."
This year, more than 20 girls are on the basketball team, enough for a full varsity and a full junior-varsity team.
"There's a good chunk of girls I know from off the court," Miller said. He serves Mooseheart at its Recreation Coordinator. "It’s about 50-50. There's a number of girls I know because of the residential community that we live in. But there's also a good-sized group of girls who are going to learn about me and I'm going to learn about them."
For many girls, skipping a year or more of competition will put them at a disadvantage when facing teams who have been competing together for years. The aggregate number of minutes played for Mooseheart's players is small.
"The learning curve is going to be huge both on and off the court," Miller said. "From a coaching standpoint, obviously you want to get to that point as quickly as possible. Our theme this year is 'endurance.' Our coaches are going to have to 'endure' as we go through this learning curve as well."
There are three seniors on Mooseheart's roster – point guard Rocio Sanchez, forward Jade Sanni and guard Jen-ni Serrano. Sanchez and Sanni will play significant minutes this year and will be counted on as team leaders. Among juniors with basketball experience are Leslie Ballard, Kammie Kolb and Angelica Lamas. Stefani Camacho is the fourth junior class member on the roster.
"We're looking at (Sanchez and Kolb), who were two of our more vocal leaders last year," Miller said. "They've kind of stepped into that leadership role early in the season. We're going to lean on them early while we're still growing as a team."
Half the roster is either a freshman or a sophomore. Among sophomores are Hannah Tucker, Rebecca Gamez and Abi Alade. Freshmen include Nowai Kpartia, Mamie Barley and Aishah Adebayo.
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