New Look Saline Girls Basketball Team to Rely on Defense, Intensity

 11/26/2017 - 16:20

A new-look Saline varsity girls basketball team takes the court Tuesday night when Saline hosts Chelsea to open the 2017-18 season.

New head coach Leigh Ann Roehm has taken over for Jeff Waltz. She’s running a new offense, a new defense and a new press. And she’s doing so with just one returning starter – senior Asia Lindsey.

Where the Hornets finish in the SEC Red and what they might do in the post-season is something Roehm isn’t thinking about these days.

“With so many new faces, predicting exactly what our team will be in the tough SEC and districts is a challenge. But, I can say, I completely believe in them. They will compete. They will challenge other teams to play their best. They will play hard,” Roehm said. “And they will do it fiercely united as a team. In the end, that is our goal - to bring it every night, together, no matter who we face.”

There is no starting five, per se. Roehm said six girls have earned a starting spot. They’ll rotate from game to game. Lindsey is the lone returning starter at guard. Junior Maddy Welch also saw a lot of time at guard. Senior Brooke Bauer and junior Kelsey Alexander also saw considerable action last year. Junior Nicole Sweetland and freshman Ella Stemmer also figure to start many nights.


































































Lindsey and Welch provide tenacity, leadership and basketball smarts.

“Asia is an experienced ball handler and a tough defender. I know I wouldn't want her guarding me if I was bringing the ball up the court!  She flat out goes hard.  She brings a sense of calm to the floor and makes her teammates better.  Her leadership will be crucial for our young team,” Roehm said. “Maddy has become an undeniable emotional and vocal leader. She has a high basketball IQ and is passionate for this team.  Combine her basketball knowledge with the way she takes the ball to the hoop, and she will play a big role for us as well.”

Both Lindsey and Welch we elected captains.

So was Bauer. According to Roehm, Bauer has had an impressive preseason.

“Brooke has had a phenomenal pre-season. She brings a competitive spirit and toughness that will be at the heart of this team. Her strong post presence is going to be huge for us this season,” Roehm said

Alexander embodies the fierce attitude of the team.

“Kelsey Alexander constantly puts her full self into anything she does. Her speed makes her hard to defend in transition and her length makes her tough on defense,” Roehm said. “Kelsey is that kid that is always going to win the ‘50/50 ball,’ she dives for the ball, leaps for rebounds, and inspires the team with her relentlessness.”

That leaves two of the newcomers. Last year, Roehm coach the junior varsity team, which was led in scoring by Sweetland. She was elected captain by her teammates.

“Nicole has had an incredible summer season and her passion for the game and our team has earned true respect with this team, as shown by her being voted captain,” Roehm said. “Nicole was the leading scorer from a great JV team last year and she brings an outside scoring threat that adds a different dimension to our team. I think she is going to have a great season.”

The other probably starter is freshman Ella Stemmer. As you can imagine, Roehm is expecting big things.

“Ella Stemmer gained immediate respect from the moment she joined us. She is a versatile player that you will see in many different positions this season. She has a dedication to and knowledge of the game that can be seen in every facet on the court. This girl won't look like a freshman. She can handle the ball, pass, post up, rebound and defend,” Roehm said. “She loves basketball and we are lucky to have her for the next four years.”

Erin Reilly, the all-state field hockey player, and Liz Sekerak, will be among the girls playing a lot of minutes off the bench. The Hornets hope that speedy sophomore Emily Eitzman, who tore up the SEC Red as a freshman on varsity soccer, will return from injury in the new year.

“Emily is a great ball handler that can really push the ball. She is the fastest dribbler in the open court I have seen. I'm excited about her future,” Roehm said.

Roehm likes the way this team is gelling.

“Our strength is our passion, grit, and togetherness as a team. I am blown away with the way that these girls love the game and each other. It is impossible to be around these girls and not be inspired.  From the girls on the floor to the girls on the bench, there is a camaraderie and fire that I think will make us fun to watch,” Roehm said. “We are a group of girls that love the game and I think you will see different names leading in the box score depending on the game.”

She figures the Hornets will be led by their defense.

“Having said all of that, I definitely think the way our passion, grit, and togetherness comes together on the defensive end of the court will be our strength. Our defense will drive us,” she said.

It’s a young team. An inexperienced team. And they’re playing for a new coach with a new system. So expect some bumps along the way – especially early. Roehm said the team has a lot to learn. She’s also confident they have to the potential for great achievement.

“So, what facets do we have to improve? Everything. It is important that you hear me in what I mean by ‘everything.’  I don't say ‘everything’ in a way that indicates a lack of confidence in this team, but instead I say that with an unwavering belief that this group of girls could do something special and I see the potential ‘next level; we could take every aspect of our game. There is not one facet that we aren't still working on - and there is not one facet that we don't have the potential to excel at,” Roehm said. “One thing I will say is that with so much ‘new,’ you will definitely see big growth as the year progresses.”








Tran Longmoore's picture
Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at or call him at 734-272-6294.

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