HANNAHVILLE - At the end of the 2012-13 basketball season, Josh Eagle got a chance to see what it's like to handle the head coaching duties.
Eagle, who guided the Hannahville girls in their first Class D district tournament appearance at North Central a year ago, is eager to begin his first full season as head coach today when they visit Bay Mills Ojibwe Charter.
He takes over for Tom Ohman, who coached the team the past six seasons.
"Tom has been slowly working me in," said Eagle, a 2000 Bark River-Harris graduate. "I'm excited for the girls. We have a lot of younger girls coming up and the older girls are doing a nice job working with them. They have developed into some fine leaders and players. I think they understand they have to work as a team in order to be successful."
Gone through graduation is Katlyn Sagataw, one of last year's leading scorers.
Hannahville returns five starters including 5-foot-9 forward Selena Williams, who will also share the point guard duties with 5-5 senior Sophie Manitowabi. Joining them are seniors Mary Saldana (5-9 center-forward) and Alicia O'Brien (5-9 forward) and 5-5 sophomore power forward Tyra Boda.
The tentative schedule:
Dec. 3 - at Bay Mills Ojibwe Charter
Dec. 6-7 - at Beaver Island
Dec. 13-14 - Mackinac Island
Dec. 17 - Republic-Michigamme
Jan. 10 - Grand Marais
Jan. 14 - Munising Baptist
Jan. 17-18 - Beaver Island
Jan. 20 - at Big Bay de Noc
Jan. 28 - Bay Mills Ojibwe Charter
Jan. 31 - at Kinross Maplewood Baptist
Feb. 1 - at Kinross Maplewood Baptist
Feb. 6 - at Republic-Michigamme
Feb. 11 - at Grand Marais
Feb. 14-15 - at Mackinac Island
Feb. 17 - at Munising Baptist
Feb. 21-22 - Northern Lights League tournament
"Selena and Sophie are well polished, and Alicia and Mary are very good on defense," said Eagle, who helped BR-H's 1999 team reach the Class D state semifinals. "After our starters, we're very young.
"My job as coach is to develop a game plan. We watched film on North Central before the district last year and we were able to hang with them for a while. That was a great learning experience. The girls are talking about it all the time. They (North Central) had more skilled players only because they put more time in. We've told the girls if they were unselfish, the sky's the limit. I think you have to dream big and work your hardest to get there."
Playing reserve roles are 5-7 senior guard Carley Sagataw, 5-9 sophomore power forward Lakota Wandahsega and eighth-graders Lena Philemon (5-9 forward), Ceyenna Boychief (5-8 forward), Shannon Ortiz (5-5 guard) and Dayson Beaver (5-4 point guard).
"Dayson is probably our best player off the bench and Carley will play a big role for us," said Eagle. "All the girls have been working hard and are very unselfish."
The Soaring Eagles plan to use a man-to-man as their primary defense this season.
"With the girls we have, we'll extend the pressure," said Eagle. "I think our first five can play all day long. I've learned a lot from (boys' coach) Seth Miller. He has been a tremendous mentor. So has Tom. I appreciate the opportunity they have given me. Only, I like to run a little more."
What can the Soaring Eagles expect in today's contest?
"I think they (Ojibwe) are getting better," said Eagle. "I like what their coach is doing. I want to see every team in our league get better. You have to respect every team. If you work real hard, things will go in your favor."