Alpena’s Strong signs LOI with ACC

Many basketball players strive for the recognition that comes with being an offensive superstar, but being a leader and a top-notch defender is a role that Emma Strong relishes.

Now Strong, a senior at Alpena High, will get an opportunity to be a leader at the next level after she signed a Letter of Intent to join the Alpena Community College women’s basketball team on Thursday.

“I’m so excited. This year I developed a passion for basketball with my new coach and built a really great relationship with him (Alpena coach Dan Arsenault),” Strong said. “Bobby (ACC coach Bobby Allen) just seems so cool so I’m really excited to further my career here.”

She is the third player to sign with ACC this week after Alcona’s Karina Cole and Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Brittany Cherwinski signed LOIs on Monday.

Strong is also the second member of her family to play for the Lumberjacks. Her brother Jake played for the ACC men’s team from 2011-13 and had an influence on Strong’s decision to sign with ACC.

“I have a lot to live up because Jake was a really great player, but I feel really honored and blessed to be able to do what he’s doing,” Strong said. “Without him playing here I don’t think I would even be considering it.”

She plans to study dietary science and will be getting some of her basic courses out of the way at ACC.

Strong was a two-year starter for the Wildcats and became their defensive anchor and an excellent communicator. She averaged four points and nine rebounds this season and established herself as a strong defender and rebounder. At the end of her senior season, she was given a Coaches Award for her skills as a team leader.

“This year I found my leadership role more important than rebounding and scoring. I wanted girls to look up to me as a leader and a role model,” Strong said. “Defense has always been my favorite, defense and rebounding so I can’t wait to see how that goes as I get stronger.”

Strong hopes to improve defensively with the Lumberjacks and is keen on developing strong relationships with her new teammates. She admits that she’s always been a little shy offensively, but says Allen is already giving her a lot of confidence on that front.

Her toughness and defensive skills should be a welcome addition to an ACC squad that finished with a 9-16 record last season. Her size and skill could see her playing any of the front court positions for the Lumberjacks and she’s just the kind of player Allen was looking to add to his team.

“She’s tough, rebounder and not scared of anybody. You need that toughness on your basketball team and I think she’ll bring it just like any other girl, but I think she’ll bring it a little bit more,” Allen said. “Her name speaks for itself: Strong. That’s exactly what I want her to do. I want her to play strong and be out there and be ready and that’s all I ask for her to do.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.