Athens girls basketball in first place in OAA White Division

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published January 15, 2020

 Troy Athens junior Clara Shoales advances the ball against Ferndale University Jan. 10. At press time, Athens was 9-0 on the season.

Troy Athens junior Clara Shoales advances the ball against Ferndale University Jan. 10. At press time, Athens was 9-0 on the season.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 Senior Isabelle Crum controls the ball against Ferndale University. Athens has already won more games than all of last season.

Senior Isabelle Crum controls the ball against Ferndale University. Athens has already won more games than all of last season.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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TROY — What a difference a year has made for the Troy Athens girls basketball team.

At press time, the Red Hawks were 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division. Last season, Athens won a total of five games.

At a team camp this past summer, Athens coach Stacie Klumpp said something “clicked” for her team, and what she has seen since is a team that has been “playing really well together.”

The evidence that things are different than last season became even clearer Dec. 17. That night, Athens took on North Farmington in its division opener.

Last season, North Farmington played in the Red Division, which is the OAA’s highest division.

Despite trailing by as much as 15, according to Klumpp, Athens came back to win the game, “almost” at the buzzer on a 3-pointer by senior Isabelle Crum.

“It was, I think, at that moment we kind (of) knew that we were in a different place than where we were last year,” Klumpp said. “Winning builds confidence, and confidence brings wins.”

Athens is confident enough to have aspirations for a postseason championship.

After losing to Utica Ford II by one point in a Division 1 district semifinal last season, Klumpp said there is some “unfinished business.”

Along with Crum, Grace Bright and Chelsea Coeling are senior captains, and like their coach, they want to take a shot at a district championship.

“That’s our goal right now,” Coeling said. “We did talk about winning more games than last year, and we’ve already accomplished that.”

A district championship is something Bright also said has been “our goal.”

“I’ve experienced it with softball, but I’ve never experienced it with basketball,” Bright said. “Especially with a close team like we have this year, I think it would be really, really cool.”

The closeness of the team is also something that has grabbed Klumpp’s attention.

“They’re a tight group,” Klumpp said. “Before the season even started, they were already having sleepovers, getting ready for basketball season.”

Having a tight-knit group isn’t the only advantage the Red Hawks have going for them this season.

This year’s squad includes eight seniors.

“From almost day one, we could come out, run some drills and do some things that all you have to do is just say the name, and the girls are already getting to the drill,” Klumpp said. “You don’t have to take that first two weeks of practice and start explaining all the drills and what each position is supposed to do.”

When asked about the state of the program, Klumpp said Athens is “doing really well,” and acknowledged JV-A coach Ron Papuga, JV-B coach Brittney Brennan and varsity assistant coach Lori Sweeney.

“I’m hoping that we’ll be a powerhouse here for a little while to come,” Klumpp said.

Up next, Athens plays at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at Rochester Adams.

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