MIKE NIETO: Newquist, Bloom Twp. girls team weather the storm

2014-01-16T18:00:00Z 2014-01-16T23:02:44Z MIKE NIETO: Newquist, Bloom Twp. girls team weather the stormMike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
January 16, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

You want to see a walking example of frustration, you need not look further than Bloom Township girls basketball coach Ron Newquist and his team.

What was supposed to be an exciting year for  the Blazing Trojans, has turned into a nightmare.

Coming off a regional title and then a loss to rival and Class 4A state champ Marian Catholic in the sectional, Newquist and his team had high hopes to take the next step.

He toughened the schedule, including a trip to play at highly touted St. Louis St. Joseph's Academy on Saturday and a game Monday against power Pickerington (Ohio) North at the McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook.

The Blazing Trojans graduated two-time Times Player of the Year in Bria Gaines (Western Kentucky), but returned a good nucleus, including Kat Strong and Danielle King.

Strong tore her ACL right before the season and the junior is out for the year. King suffered "turf toe," which is a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe joint. She missed 12 games and returned Thursday against Rich Central for a Southland Athletic Conference game. Those two ran the show and no doubt the team has struggled without its two best players. Bloom was 7-10 going into Thursday night.

It would be easy for Nequist to cry, but as anyone who knows him could attest, he is not that kind of guy.

"Without a doubt we are different team without them and I wish we had them," Newquist said. "We have struggled, I am not going to sugarcoat it. We miss them, but this is the hand you were dealt. We have to play every game with or without Kat or Danny. Our kids have played hard, but we are young and you are going to make mistakes and that shows on the scoreboard."

With many sophomores in the lineup, Newquist said they are learning on the spot. Sophomore Anika Johnson has proved to be a scorer and rebounder as has Ariana Dampier.

"I figure we might as well get some experience for next year," Newquist said. "We are taking our lumps, but next year we will have that much more expereince with Danny and Kat coming back too. Don't get me wrong, it is tough to see us lose and these girls are competitors, but they are young and they are developing basketball I.Q. and it will come to them."

You also have to look at the fact Bloom has been competitive in most of its games, losing down the stretch via a turnover, missed rebound or a defensive lapse. These are things that should correct themselves as the team gains experience. Newquist's love for the game carries over to his players and they will not lie down.

The program will be back.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.

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