The Humphrey St. Francis girls basketball team finished as the runner-up in the state tournament last season. With the experience of a state run, and a few key pieces returning, the Flyers have high expectations internally and externally.
When the Lincoln Journal Star released its preseason rankings, there was St. Francis atop the D-2 poll. The Flyers then backed that spot up, at least initially, with a 73-20 pounding of Palmer on Nov. 30
"We've got some good experience coming back," said head coach Bryan Reichmuth after practice last week. "We lost three great seniors last year, so we're still trying to fill those spots in. If we can find people to assume those roles we look to be pretty competitive."
St. Francis has a history of success in the girls basketball program. The Flyers have competed at state 10 times, advancing as far as the championship match seven times.
St. Francis won three consecutive state titles from 2005-2007.
The Flyers continue the season tonight when they travel to Riverside (0-1).
Despite being ranked highly in both the preseason poll, Reichmuth said his team isn't focused on the early media recognition.
"We haven't talked about it all, and we probably won't," he said. "The preseason rankings, to me, are all about what you did last year, not really about this year's team. Obviously, we were state runner-up last year, so I expect they're giving us a little credit for the carryover. We've sure got to go out and earn it yet, and prove what we can do."
The Flyers will once again try and force the tempo on offense and defense. Opening the schedule with 73 points while allowing only 20 fits right into their scheme.
St. Francis returns two seniors this season - Tara Foltz and Sydney Engel. Beyond these two players, the Flyers also look to point guard Allison Weidner to be a key player.
"She's really, really special," Reichmuth said. "She was an All-Stater last year, coming back this year as a sophomore. She'll make everybody a little bit better."
Weidner scored 28 points in the opening game of the season and scored 14 points a game a year ago and had 4.1 rebounds a game.
With all the talent on the team, the Flyers have set the bar high for themselves.
"Every year when we start, it's our goal to make it to the state basketball tournament," Reichmuth said. "It's too much work not to have that goal in mind. We strive to get that goal at the end of the year."
The Flyers realize it won't be an easy path though. Their schedule is filled with high-quality opponents on their schedule. They play Hartington-Newcastle (No. 5 D-1), Howells-Dodge (D-1 contender), Burwell (C-2 contender), Pierce (C-1 contender), Clarkson/Leigh (C-2 contender) and Elkhorn Valley (No. 8 D-1).
"We play an extremely tough schedule," Reichmuth said. "Five of our opponents are ranked preseason. We have a lot to work ahead of us."
2017-2018 St Francis Girls Basketball
|(W) 63 - 10|
|(W) 68 - 20|
|(W) 57 - 43|
at Heartland Lutheran
|(W) 62 - 8|
|(W) 60 - 29|
|(W) 66 - 41|
|(W) 60 - 40|
at Twin River
|(W) 52 - 30|
|(W) 62 - 37|
|(W) 65 - 44|
|(W) 61 - 53|
|(W) 60 - 44|
|(L) 45 - 44|
|(L) 59 - 55|
|(W) 55 - 47|
|(W) 70 - 51|
|(W) 63 - 60|
|(W) 61 - 49|
|(W) 41 - 38|
|(W) 73 - 50|
|(W) 70 - 40|
|(W) 68 - 62|
|(W) 78 - 58|
|(W) 71 - 27|
|(W) 63 - 44|
|(W) 41 - 29|
|(W) 68 - 41|
|(W) 74 - 58|
|(L) 57 - 51|
|(L) 57 - 51|
2018-19 St. Francis Girls Basketball
Nov. 30 6 p.m. Palmer
Dec. 6 6 p.m. at Riverside
Dec. 7 6 p.m. Heartland Lutheran
Dec. 11 6 p.m. at Hartington-Newcastle
Dec. 13 6 p.m. Clearwater-Orchard
Dec. 15 TBD Fullerton
Dec. 18 6 p.m. at Nebraska Christian
Dec. 20 7:45 p.m. Twin River
Dec. 27-29 TBD Nebraska Wesleyan Tournament
Jan. 4 6 p.m. at Howells Dodge
Jan. 5 6 p.m. Burwell
Jan. 10 6 p.m. at Pierce
Jan. 11 6 p.m. at Clarkson/Leigh
Jan. 12-19 TBD Goldenrod Tournament (at St. Paul)
Jan. 22 6 p.m. at St. Edward
Jan. 26 TBD at Lutheran High Northeast
Jan. 29 6 p.m. at Central Valley
Feb. 2 6 p.m. at Spaulding Academy
Feb. 5 4:30 p.m. David City Aquinas
Feb. 8 6 p.m. at Elkhorn Valley
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com