SOUTHFIELD — Some 25 minutes remained until tip-off, yet half the court at Southfield Christian sat unoccupied.
On one side, the Madison Heights Bishop Foley girls basketball team warmed up for its Nov. 29 game.
The Eagles, though, gathered in a classroom just outside the gym, going over last-minute scouting and game planning.
And trying to stay fresh.
Even surviving warm-ups is a task coach Seena Allen must navigate through these days.
“The girls we have are doing a great job,” Allen said with a laugh. “They work hard and play as a team. They are patient and they are committed to this team.”
There just aren’t very many of them.
The Eagles’ roster has seven names on it, and due to injury, only five were in uniform for the Bishop Foley game.
Some challenges are obvious, namely physical fatigue. Others, like the mental focus players can maintain with limited rest, is where Allen feels she must play the biggest role.
“We’re going to have to be conditioned,” Allen said. “At the same time, the key is making this fun. My goal is to encourage them with what they can do as a team. I know they are sacrificing, so I have to maintain that encouragement. This isn’t easy, but we have to look at it as something we can do as a team.”
Two games in, the Eagles were 1-1, opening the season with a 57-36 victory against Lutheran South of New Port with six girls playing.
Against Foley, the five-person limit proved too costly.
“We were only down by three late in the fourth, but it got to a point where we really wore down,” Allen said of a 47-36 loss.
Asked why turnout for the team was so low, Allen said there could be a number of reasons.
“I think adding competitive cheer to the school may have taken some girls,” she said. “I’m sure the social aspect and freedom to do other things in the winter played into it, as well. I mean, we’re encouraging the game at the younger levels now, but it’s tough when your varsity program has just seven girls.”
The lack of numbers certainly hasn’t influenced expectations, though.
Allen was quick to point out teams in the past that had limited roster numbers and still finished with double-digit win totals and made plenty of noise in the postseason.
“After last year, and knowing the talent we’d have back, we came into the season thinking this was a team that could win a district title, and then some,” Allen said. “The funny thing is, we’re still that team in our mind. We have to operate with the mindset that we are going to do our best and see what happens. The girls understand the process of winning, and they are talented enough to do it. Who knows what will happen? But we’re going to give it our all to find out.”