A loaded roster with returning players, a young roster with fresh faces, one thing stays the same for Harper Creek in recent seasons, the Beavers keep winning.
Harper Creek has won back-to-back league titles and has won 20-plus games in back-to-back years over the last two campaigns in girls' basketball and the Beavers have done it in different ways - with a lot of experience returning two seasons ago and with very little last year.
For the 2012-13 season, Harper Creek will be going back to having a lot of experience with three All-City players returning from the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division champs that went 20-4 overall last year.
"Last year at this time, we were talking and we said we didn't have any experience and that we had lost what everybody thought was one of the better groups we've had around here, which was true. But this group picked up right where they left off," Harper Creek coach Matt Ellenwood said. "So we are hoping to continue that."
Harper Creek will start that effort with the trio of top returners.
The Beavers bring back four-year starter Brianne Burritt, who has been a two-year all-league player and averaged 12 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last year.
Sarah Ressler is another four-year varsity player and earned all-conference honors last year averaging 7.7 points per game and 4.7 rebounds.
Jozlin Johnson also is coming back as a three-year varsity player who will return to her role as the team's point guard.
"We have a lot of leadership coming back and we only lost a few players, so we figure we can pick up right where we left off," Burritt said.
Ressler added, "We hope to live up to our expectations that we had last year and this year and be even better."
Rounding out the experienced group would be returning senior Kaycee Klaren, who will be asked to play more minutes this season.
The Beavers also have a trio of juniors that were brought up to varsity last year and will be asked to take the next step in their roles on the team, including Schae Brandt, Haley Burritt and Nicole Gilbert.
Harper Creek will be looking to lead the way again in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division. The SMAC East has been won for two years straight by Harper Creek. But the SMAC East is also deep, after adding Gull Lake last season, it also includes Battle Creek Central, Lakeview, Marshall, Coldwater, Sturgis and Loy Norrix.
"A lot of coaches run from the defend the title thing. But when you have returning players and you do win, you want to win again," Ellenwood said. "The league is our goal, winning the league is the most important thing to us. But we have to be realistic and in a 20-game season you have to have things bounce your way."