Experience is a great thing to have when you are a basketball coach and Riverview’s Rob Sauter will have a pile of it this season.
The Riverview girls team has six players entering at least their third year. Two of them – Sam Dorn and Karmyn Cartrette – are heading into their fourth season as varsity players.
“We have quite a bit of experience back,” said Sauter, who counts four seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and a freshman among his 12-member team.
“We have a bunch of hard-working girls who play hard and play for each other,” Sauter said. “We are not a real big team, but we are athletic and fast.”
The 5-foot-9 Dorn, a senior, leads the way and she is one of three captains, along with fellow senior Nicole McMath and junior Elizabeth Dalton. Sauter said Dorn is one of the top players in the Huron League and the Bucs are expecting a big campaign out of her. Gabby Rolak (third year) and McMath (third year) are the other seniors on the squad.
The Pirates have a few other interesting pieces to work with this season, among them, junior Emma Flaishans, who lost all of last season for foot and ankle injuries. Flaishans played on the varsity as a freshman, and to show what kind of athlete she is, she was the starting quarterback several years ago on the undefeated Seitz Middle School football team. To have her back and healthy has Sauter smiling before the season has even begun.
Shannon McAlinden, another junior and a third-year player, is also a key.
“All of our players have shown great improvement, but Shannon has really come on,” Sauter said. “She is very, very athletic and she can be one of our best players.”
And then there is Rayah Kolbusz, who made the team as a ninth-grader. You know a kid can play if they are good enough for the varsity as a freshman and Kolbusz, who comes from a basketball coaching family, has made a believer of Sauter.
The squad is rounded out this year by junior Anastasia Stergiadis and sophomores Paige Beaudry, Kylie Skidmore and Tylee Hunter.
“This is a real team,” said Sauter. “All 12 girls can and will play.”
Riverview was 11-10 overall last year and finished fourth in the Huron League behind co-champs Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central and Huron and third-place Airport. That team was just crushed by bad luck as it lost 52 games to injury or illness and not a single Pirate played in every game.
Sauter said Airport returns virtually its whole team from last year and SMCC returns most of its players from 2017-18. In addition, he said several other teams have improved since last year, aw well.
“The league is going to be very good this year,” he said. “They are at east six real quality teams and every game is going to be tough. We feel like we have the talent to play with all of them and we are excited to get started.”
The Bucs open the season with non-league games against Downriver League powerhouse Allen Park, Dearborn and Fordson before beginning the Huron League campaign against Flat Rock.