Utica freshman girls basketball achieves perfection in 2023 season

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Shelby-Utica News | Published March 22, 2023

 Utica High School’s freshman girls basketball team went a perfect 19-0 on the year behind strong team chemistry.

Utica High School’s freshman girls basketball team went a perfect 19-0 on the year behind strong team chemistry.

Photo provided by TJ Waterhouse


UTICA — Basketball has been buzzing at Utica High School, and rightfully so.

The varsity teams on both the boys and girls sides have been strong in recent years, but there’s another Utica team that has joined the conversation.

In their first year of high school basketball, Utica’s class of 2026 posted a perfect 19-0 season for the freshman girls basketball team.

Utica, who competes in the MAC-White Division, didn’t have much room for improvement after the 2025 class tallied a 12-6 record last year for the freshman squad, but this team was determined.

Utica freshman coach TJ Waterhouse, a Utica graduate, said most teams take time to click but said this team showed its teeth early.

“Sometimes it takes five games, sometimes it takes 10 games, but this year was pretty quick,” Waterhouse said. “After the first couple games, I felt like they really found the rhythm and took off from there.”

The young squad’s ability to transition quickly may have been its biggest strength on the floor, but the players’ adaptation to team basketball stood out the most.

Drawing from Shelby Junior High and Eppler Junior High, Utica freshman basketball tends to be the chemistry-building step between junior high and varsity basketball because some of the girls aren’t familiar with each other.

Although some teams may struggle with team building, Waterhouse said his squad embraced the team-first mentality.

“At the freshman level, we just try to get them accustomed to the high school level of basketball because it’s their first year at the high school level,” Waterhouse said. “What I was impressed with was how much they liked being together as a team. They got along together, and that’s what I think helped them more than anything else.”

Next year, the teammates will look to continue their success either at the junior varsity or varsity level, but one thing is for certain — a perfect season is something they won’t forget.

Utica freshman players:
Alyx Stuehmer, Kylie Condon, Avery Lewis, Violet Smith, Kaila Sutter, Isabella Sanchez, Carolyn Clark, Merry Shakouri, Gabriella Watson, Emiljana Lulgjuraj, Amya Williamson, Lexi Scholten.