Looking to get back on track after just the second losing season in 17 years as head coach of the Southwestern Illinois College women’s basketball program, Mike Juenger announced on Tuesday that he has commitments from three St. Louis area players for the upcoming 2015-16 year.
Hoping to aid an offense which struggled to put points on the scoreboard, Juenger has added 5-foot-8 guard Maddy Sheraka, of Roxana, as well as a pair of inside players in 6-foot-1 twin sisters Mona Samuel and Marcia Samuel from Jennings (Mo.) High School.
The 2014-15 season turned out to be a major disappointment for the Blue Storm. SWIC finished 12-15 and lost in a play-in game in the Region 24 Tournament. The losing season was in the aftermath of three straight years of 25 or more wins and three straight trips to the NJCAA National Tournament.
Juenger’s goal in the offseason has been to find 12 players who can help him take the Blue Storm program back to the top.
“It was a rough year. We lost a couple of kids before the season started and then because of injuries and issues with academics, we were never able to get back on track,” Juenger said. “We’re hitting it (recruiting) hard. We want to bring in 12 kids who will play hard every night and will represent SWIC well both on and off the basketball court. I don’t want another season like last year. We had some kids who played hard. We just struggled all year.”
Sheraka, a first-team Belleville News-Democrat Class 1A-2A all-area selection, averaged 18.8 points and shot 41 percent from beyond the three-point arc for a Shells team which was among the top small school teams in the area.
“First of all, Maddy is a great kid who loves the game and goes out and gives everything she can everytime she takes the floor,” Juenger said. “She’s a terific competitor but what she can really do is flat out shoot the basketball which is something we really struggled doing at times last year.”
The Samuel sisters are also welcomed additions to the Blue Storm program. Mona Samuel averaged 9.4 points as a senior, while Marcia was right at six points per game during their senior seasons a year ago.
More importantly is the fact that both are good athletes will make the Blue Storm a better team on both ends of the court.