PERU — With four starters from last year graduated and only three players returning that played big minutes, St. Bede girls’ basketball head coach Tom McGunnigal isn’t looking for the same squad as the year before.
What he is looking for is this year’s squad to carry on the Lady Bruins tradition that each of McGunnigal’s teams have been able to do in each of his first 14 years at the helm.
“I’m looking for the girls to get better day by day and to go hard all the time without taking plays off,” McGunnigal said. “Good things can happen with hard work. I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat and we’re going to surprise some people.”
Seniors Mo Dean, Whitley Funfsinn, and Lydia Stariha are the top three returning players and known commodities. Dean, a 6-foot-3 center, is the Lady Bruins top returning scorer (7.9 ppg) with Funfsinn averaging 5.4 ppg as a junior.
McGunnigal said the Lady Bruins have a lot of undiscovered talent, one of whom is senior guard Alex Alleman, who did not play her junior year.
“We’re hoping to get big things from Alex Alleman. With her being a sharpshooter, she hasn’t showed any signs of not playing last year,” he said.
Other squad members include seniors Julia Jackson (5-3 G), Haley Dzierzynski (5-5 G) and juniors Maritsa Hermosillo (5-7 G), Laura Sickley (5-7 G), Samantha Manahan (5-2 G), Lexie Miranda (5-7 G), Kelsey Thompson (5-6 G), Sophie Carus (5-6 F), Raley Mauck (5-10 F) and Rachel Dose (5-9 F).
St. Bede opens their season at home Tuesday against Kewanee Wethersfield. From there, they will return to the Brimfield Thanksgiving Tournament for the second year of the event’s existence. McGunnigal said the Lady Bruins are ready to roll.
“The last three days of practice have been intense and we’ve been peaking. Some girls are stepping up and showing leadership, which is what we need,” McGunnigal said. “We’re going to try to compete and win every game we play.”