UNION CITY – The Mississinawa Valley girls basketball team is coming off a winless season in 2017-18 and has a new coach for the third straight year.
Michael Paige will be taking the reins of the program and is a graduate of Northridge High School and Liberty University.
The junior varsity coach is Pina Tuisamoa and varsity assistant coach is Maddie Murphy.
Paige brings a lot of coaching experience with 12 years in Vandalia coaching boys and last year with the National Trail girls’ program.
“It’s going to be a challenge getting a late start as the coach and not having the girls over the summer to work with, and now trying to implement a new offense/defense that the girls need to learn in such a short period of time,” Paige said. “My goal is to try and build the girls program. It’s going to be a work-in progress and a long term goal, but there are lot of things we need to do in the short term to get there. It starts by taking it one practice, one game and one season at a time. This is a team that didn’t win a game last year so every time we step on the floor it’s a building process.”
The Blackhawks have experience coming back with three seniors Sidnie Hunt, Bailey Johnson and Olivia Murphy, who will share captain duties this year.
Sidnie Hunt is a 5-foot-6 returning starter at the forward position and was big on the boards last year pulling down 9 a game last season.
Bailey Johnson is a 5-4 returning starter as a shooting guard and varsity letter winner last year.
Olivia Murphy is a 5-6 returning starter at the point guard position and a competitive player who brings athleticism to the floor.
Kya Lavy is a 6-0 junior forward that provides some size and scoring inside as well as a defensive presence in the paint.
Other juniors on the team are Leah and Emily Scholl and Lindsay Johns.
Mississinawa has had three scrimmages and played six different teams that include some bigger schools including Northmont and Greenville. Coach Paige has been pleased with the progress of the team with the limited time he’s had with them.
“Our team’s strength this season will be our defense. This is an area in which we look to greatly improve from last year. They only averaged 28 ppg last year and gave up 56 ppg doubling their average so our focus will be on lowering our opponents scoring which should enable us to compete at a higher level this year,” Paige stated.
With one season of coaching in the Cross County Conference, Paige has gotten familiar with the competition and the top players and teams.
Paige sees Tri-Village, Miami East, Franklin-Monroe and Covington battling it out at the top.
“All of those teams have returning first team all-conference starters and have established themselves as a step above the rest of the CCC,” Paige commented.
He also sees Arcanum, Tri-County North and Bradford as challengers, but wouldn’t be surprised if National Trail and Bethel were in the mix as well.
“Our team goals this season are to finish with at least 10 wins and finish between fifth and seventh place in the conference. My goals as a coach this season is to continue to progress and grow the program and institute a culture of winning from the youth program, to the junior high and up to the high school level. I realize that taking over a team that did not win a game last season is going to involve some internal struggles and changes, but they are necessary in achieving our goals,” Paige concluded.
The season will start for the ’Hawks on Nov. 26 where they will host the Parkway Panthers.