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Memphis coach Sarah Pastuschyn makes a point during a timeout in a Feb. 21 game against Ubly. Looking on are Emily Payne (14) and Taylor Hall. (Photos by DAVE ANGELL)

Basketball - Girls

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Memphis girls hoop squad goes winless

Memphis guard Virginia Jahr sets up a play in a Feb. 21 game against Ubly.

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If you walk into Memphis High School and look up, you’ll see a sign painted high up on a wall that was done by the class of 2006.

It reads: “Follow your dreams and welcome the challenges in life.”

Well, in 2013, the challenges facing the Memphis girls’ basketball team have been nothing they dreamed of.

The Yellowjackets did not win a regular season game. Thursday night, they were beaten 71-10 by Marlette. They have one more chance to win, in Monday’s district opener. Yet, despite having to live with that goose egg, the players seem to be holding up.

Coach Sarah Pastuschyn ran them through a two-hour practice recently and there was no moping, no one going half speed and no bickering. In fact, the girls enjoyed several lighthearted moments. All-in-all, it was impossible to sense the frustration that must have intensified as the losses kept coming.

“They never say die. They’re a bunch of good hard workers,” said Pastuschyn, in her second season as coach. “They do have a competitive nature. We just don’t have any scorers. It’s been really hard and it’s educational.”

Pastuschyn’s first team last season won five games. She knew this season would be a challenge as Memphis moved from the North Central Thumb League to the Greater Thumb Conference.

“It’s more physical and more skill,” she said. “The big posts own those rebounds and the guards are quicker. Now we’re up against the big dogs.”

Pastuschyn, who played college basketball at Lakeland College in Wisconsin, said it didn’t help when her top scoring threat, Skyler Cronk, was lost to injury at the beginning of January.

“She was my starting post and we could count on at least eight to 10 points from her,” Pastuschyn said. “That was big for us.”

Memphis has suffered some particularly painful losses, including scores of 67-5, 69-10 and 60-13.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle Pastuschyn has faced has been a feeder system that has been almost non-existent. Several of her players began playing in elementary school, but didn’t pick up a ball again until high school.

“The girls have learned that playing from fourth and fifth grade on is important,” Pastuschyn said, “because you’re playing against girls who have been playing for 10 years. I’m still dealing with girls that this is their second year playing.

“We have to re-teach very basic fundamentals. We have to do ball handling every day just so they remember. Some girls didn’t even know what the post was before this year.”

Pastuschyn and her assistant coach are going to coach the fifth and sixth-grade teams.

“We’re going to get involved and start that program,” she said. “We’re in touch with the seventh and eighth-grade coach. We’re saying ‘this is what we expect; this is what I want an eighth-grader to know when she comes in as a freshman.’”

To Pastuschyn’s credit, it doesn’t seem like she “lost” any players emotionally in the face of the trying season.

“We just keep trying to do our best,” said senior Virginia Jahr. “We’ll set goals like scoring first in a game or improving on defense and we’ve been able to do that.”

Contact Brian Marshall at (586) 716-1800, ext. 303 or at bmarshall@voicenews.com

Last Updated: 2/25/2013 10:41:34 AM EST