With a roster made up largely of freshmen, it's understandable that the Alpena Community College women's basketball team would have some jitters to open the season.
But two things were very clear after the Lumberjacks season opening loss to Kalamazoo Valley on Friday: the Lumberjacks need to score more and they need to hang on to the ball.
ACC committed 46 turnovers and had a scoreless stretch that lasted nearly 12 minutes during a 78-39 loss to the Cougars in the East/West Classic at Park Arena.
It's the first game. We could've done better as a team," ACC coach Bobby Allen said. "We'll be fine tomorrow. I'll do a better job of coaching tomorrow."
Sherri Smith gave ACC (0-1) a 3-0 lead with a three-pointer to open the game, but then the Lumberjacks went cold for the almost the next 12 minutes, while the Cougars built a 21-3 lead. The Lumberjacks struggled to hang on to the ball and couldn't do a lot to slow down Kalmazoo Valley.
Bre Birmingham was one of three Kalamazoo players in double figures and led the Cougars with 15 points. Kandice Johnson added 13 points and Khadijah Seawood chipped in with 12.
Smith led ACC with 14 points and was deadly from three-point range, knocking down 4-of-5 shots. The Lumberjacks shot 7-of-13 beyond the arc for the game.
With eight freshmen players getting their first taste of the college game, there were a lot of little errors that did the Lumberjacks in. Errant passes and bad shots put the ball back in Kalamazoo's hands and more often than not the Cougars converted the turnovers into points.
ACC sophomore guard Lauren Seibert said the team must improve it's rebounding and control the ball better as the Lumberjacks prepare to face Muskegon tonight at 5:30 p.m.
"I think just working on everything, especially turnovers and rebounding. Those are two aspects of the game we really need to work on the most," Seibert said. "That was our first game playing together. Tomorrow it'll be better, but it won't be like the first game where everyone's freaking out."
Seibert and Whitney Frazier each had six points for ACC and Alleigh Sexton had four.
ACC found it's footing again late in the first half, but by that point the No. 12 Cougars had already established a sizeable lead and did a good job of distributing the ball.
The Lumberjacks found success from beyond the arc in the second half, but went cold again midway through the period, allowing Kalamazoo to go on a 15-0 run and stretch it's lead to 71-33 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
Allen knew that some of his players would be nervous, but said that playing the Cougars in the season opener was a good test for the Lumberjacks.
"They were nervous, but some of my sophomores were nervous as well. It's something that we just have to get over," Allen said. "I like playing Kalamazoo Valley the first game out, it lets you know what you need to work on."
In the early game on Friday, St. Clair topped Muskegon 87-48.
KALAMAZOO (78) Hayden 0 4-4 4; Martinez 2 0-0 4; Deveraux 2 0-0 4; Sleeman 2 0-1 4; Seawood 5 2-4 12; Birmingham 6 2-3 15; Leonard 3 1-6 7; Johnson 4 5-8 13; Herr 2 0-0 4; Beckman 2 0-0 4; Gerber 3 0-0 7
ALPENA (39): Smith 5 0-0 14; Sexton 2 0-0 4; Hipkins 0 1-3 1; Frazier 2 1-2 6; Monticello 0 2-2 2; Cummings 1 0-0 2; A. Nowak 1 0-0 2; Seibert 2 0-0 6; E. Nowak 1 1-2 3