Nov. 25—Ohio County High School's girls' basketball team got it done last season, winning the 10th District Tournament, and the Lady Eagles will be looking for more in 2022-23.
"The expectations will remain the same here at Ohio County," veteran coach Ted Hill said. "We want to put a quality product on the floor every season. It was a way of life for many years with our athletes, and we are trying to establish that here again."
The Lady Eagles will be led by senior Camryn Kennedy, who averaged 8.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season
"She's our top returning player," Hill said of Kennedy. "She started all of last year and was our most consistent player, overall. She is a five-tool player and a good athlete."
Others who figure to play key roles include senior Skylar Gray, along with juniors Corey Milam and Brooklyn Rhoades. All three have some varsity experience and will have to take their game to another level, according to Hill.
Ohio County features a large sophomore class, led by Ella Decker.
"She is a hard-working kid who should, over time, be one of the better players in the region," Hill said of Decker.
Emerson Gray and newcomer Kaitlyn Wilson got off to fast starts in the preseason and will be major contributors this season.
Freshman Lily-Kate Hill and eighth-grader Celeste Jachimowicz will see action at point guard.
"Both are talented and have a bright future," Hill said.
Hill believes quality leadership will be vital for this season's team to succeed.
"We need our veteran players to stay healthy," Hill said. "Being so young, we need their leadership on the floor.
"Winning the district championship last season was the first step in our process. Though we are building off that, we lost six very talented seniors. We spent the summer getting our young kids experience at the varsity level and trying to get our kids to mesh together with all the newcomers."
MUHLENBERG COUNTYThe Lady Mustangs took a step in the right direction last season, going 10-17 and losing by a point to rival Ohio County in the 10th District Tournament championship game — this, after winning just two of 15 games in 2020-21.
Now, longtime coach Mike Harper will be hoping to put his team back at the top in a highly competitive district.
"We didn't have any seniors on the team last season, so we have everyone back," Harper said. "We feel like we have improved a great deal since this point last year and are in a better position to start the season. Our kids are more confident and have more experience as a unit at the varsity level."
Seniors Sarah-Cate Boggess (10 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Macy Fields (6.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Aven Proffitt (7.3 ppg) and Rachael Joines (2.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg) provide ample experience.
"Sarah-Cate is a four-year starter and a steady presence on the floor for our team," Harper said. "Macy is our primary ball-handler, and she played with much more confidence at the end of last season.
"Aven is a 3-point shooting threat, and Rachael really plays hard for us."
Also back is leading scorer and rebounder Brooklyn Stewart, a junior who averaged 12.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
"Brooklyn's an aggressive player who competes on every possession," Harper said.
Others in the mix include junior Makaya Duvall, junior Emma Cox, junior Olivia Cox, sophomore Taylor Wilkins and freshman Izzy Wilkins, who had some big games as an eighth-grader.
"I think it's important to have some success early so our kids can maintain the confidence they've gained over the summer and in early practice," Harper said. "As with any team, I believe we can have a really good season if everyone accepts their role and we find our identity."
McLEAN COUNTYPoor shooting sabotaged the Lady Cougars last season as they struggled to a 6-22 record, which included a first-round loss to Muhlenberg County in the 10th District Tournament.
"Our girls have put in a lot of fundamental work this offseason and summer," McLean County coach Ryan Groves said. "We have stressed that our field goal percentage has to improve in order for us to compete with the teams in our region. We averaged around 27% from the floor last season, and we simply cannot afford to continue shooting the ball so poorly if we want to win games.
"Our goals remain the same as in years past. We want to win a 3rd Region All "A" Championship, earn the number one seed in our district and receive an automatic bid to the regional tournament, and we want to be prepared to compete for a 3rd Region championship."
Top returning players include senior forward Breanna Frailley (6 ppg, 6.1 rpg), senior guard Kashlynn Rice (6.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg), junior guard-forward Sarah Miller (5.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and sophomore guard Sarah Larkin.
"Breanna goes all-out on every play, and she has extended her game and can knock down the occasional 3-pointer," Groves said..
"Kashlynn is the quickest player on our team and can be one of the best on-ball defenders in the region."
Groves believes unity will be key.
"Our next step is to simply get better as a team," he said. "This group is learning how to play with each other. We are trying to establish a positive and supportive culture within our program and also working on understanding that everyone can contribute."