By Mike Miazga

What a difference a year makes!
Last season, the Timothy Christian girls basketball team finished 13-15. Fast forward a calendar year and things are vastly different for the Trojans, who finished the regular season 17-9 and 8-4 in Metro Suburban Conference Red Division play. Timothy , which earned a No. 1 regional seed for the start of this week’s postseason, took third in conference behind Walther Christian and St. Edward, which split the title.
So what has led to the turnaround for coach Michele Strube’s team? How about a combination of talent (young and old), strong team chemistry and a coaching staff that draws high marks from the players.
“There is great chemistry between the players and coaches,” Timothy junior Abby Carstensen said. “We have two sets of sisters on the team (Carstensen’s freshman sister, Sarah, now is on the varsity, plus there is the senior-freshman sister combination of Olivia and Hannah Schuringa), plus the coaches (Michele and Jon Strube) have their daughter on the team. Mr. and Mrs. Strube are like our parents. They treat us as if we are their own kids. They care about us more than just players. They help us in any way we need, basketball or not.”
Olivia Schuringa agrees with Carstensen’s assessment. “Mrs. Strube, Jordyn’s mom, cares about us more than just a coach,” she said. “She cares about our lives off the court and she connects with us and that shows on the court. Mr. Strube is the dad presence. He makes us run more (laughs). It’s nice having both of them there as that parent presence in games.”
Jordyn Strube offers this take about her coaches/parents. “They care about everybody on the team and would do anything for them,” she said. “They want everybody to have fun through basketball. They bring a good atmosphere to the team and we’ve done really well with that. For me, playing for them can be hard at times. They are a little harder on me, but I love playing for them. I like having coaches who can be hard on me.”
Schuringa added that despite the team having a variety of grade levels on the roster, including two freshmen in her sister, Hannah, and guard Sureya Alex (now three freshmen with Sarah Cartstensen’s addition), the team’s chemistry has been off the charts this season.
“We all are really good friends,” she said. “We went to the Dominican Republic (in January as part of the school’s Renew term) and got to know each other a lot better personally off the court. We get along really well. We understand how each other feels.”
Connecting with each other and the coaches is one thing, but results still must be generated on the court for success to occur. Timothy has that covered quite well this season.
The Trojans have enjoyed great scoring balance with Olivia Schuringa leading the way at 9.5 points per game. Hannah Schuringa averages 9.2 points, while Jordyn Strube is at 9.1 points. Emily DeBoer, one of only two seniors on the roster with Olivia Schuringa, averages 7.1 points, while freshman Alex is at 6.8 points and Heidi Westra averages 4.4 points per game.
Alex is leading the team in 3-pointers made with 34, while Strube has 32. Hannah Schuringa is the team’s top rebounder at 8.2 per game. DeBoer is averaging 6.6 rebounds, while Olivia Schuringa is at 6.3 rebounds and has 38 blocked shots. Strube is shooting 74 percent from the free-throw line and also has 51 assists. Hannah Schuringa has 30 blocked shots, while Alex is shooting a team-best 79 percent from the free-throw line and has a team-high 55 assists. Westra also has been a key contributor in other categories with a team-high 73 assists and 51 steals to go with a 6.0-rebounds-per-game average. Timothy averaged a robust 38.3 rebounds per game during the regular season.
“We have people at every position who are playing well,” said Abby Carstensen, a junior guard. “Every position is covered well and you have chemistry on the team where everybody is so encouraging. People always are lifting each other up.”
Jordyn Strube added: “We have a good range of guards who all have different skills that fit perfectly for us. Our posts finish so well. We have been playing very well as a team. We’ve been winning games we aren’t expected to win because we all play together, we finish shots and we pass really well.”
But Strube said the chemistry factor still can’t be underestimated when the team’s bigger picture is examined. “Chemistry is important,” she said. “We have it. I don’t think we would be as good as we are if we didn’t all get along. It all works out well. Everybody is out there encouraging each other. We tell each other to keep going. It’s nice to have that team chemistry.”
Olivia Schuringa said the team has benefitted from the play of her sister, Hannah, and Alex, the two freshmen, and Abby Carstensen, who also is new to the team this season. “With Sureya and Hannah they have energy and a good skill level and know the fundamentals,” she said. “Abby has played basketball, but she is new this year. They all have helped us. This team has grown so much from the first practice to now. In the second half of the season we’re moving the ball better with our passing and we’re taking time to move the ball and see open opportunities.”
“The two freshmen are a big part of the team,” Carstensen added. “Hannah is a fantastic rebounder and Sureya has done a great job with the ball and with her shooting.”
Schuringa admits she is somewhat surprised at the success the team has enjoyed. “Last year I thought was the best team I had been on in high school,” she said. “This is a very pleasant surprise. We’ve been great. We earned the No. 1 seed in the regional and have done a lot of great things.
Carstensen added: “It’s amazing how far we have come. I kind of had a feeling we would do well. Everybody gets along so well. We build each other up and we play well together.”
Strube also admits she’s surprised at what has transpired this season, but had an inkling something big might be brewing. “Only because we are really young,” she said. “We only have two seniors and two freshmen playing. I’m a little surprised, but didn’t doubt we could do this well.”


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