Head Coach Jeremy Kelch of the Hundred Hornet Girls' Basketball Team will need to get the ball to senior post player Katie "The Beast" Tennant for his team to put together nice seasons back-to-back under his watch.
Tennant was just missed being a triple-double player last season with 14.6 points a game, 14.2 rebounds per game; and a nine block game average. She was an excellent foul shooter, hitting more than 85 percent from the line.
However, losing guards Mercedez Goff and Haley Hayes to graduation last fall will hurt the Lady Hornet's chances to get the ball to Tennant so she can do her thing. The losses of Cheyenne Myers and power forward Shayna Tedrow Myers will hurt, too.
Tedrow made it impossible for opposing teams to double down on Tennant, while Myers was Johnny-on-the-Spot and nailed the jumper to keep the Hornet offense synchronized.
With only seniors Emily Ebert and Oshana Topp back with much experience, Kelch will have his work cut out trying to fill the loss of four starters.
Kelch and new Assistant Coach Roger Tustin do have numbers on their side, with 17 ladies lacing up their athletic shoes this season.
However, with only three players with very much varsity experience, they will need sophomore Paige Shriver and junior Lindsay Jones to step up, along with senior Hanna Metz if the Hornets can get off to a fast start. That will allow the younger and less experienced players opportunities to get their feet wet and be able to contribute.
Kelch sees a lot of potential in freshman Josie Phillips, who, he said, "Isn't afraid to play and has all the tools to become another great Lady Hornet basketball player." However, Kelch doesn't have a true guard yet and will play it by ear at this position. He will go with guards by committee until he can find some players that can fill that spot.
In addition to these girls, Kelch and Tustin will have senior Tina Philburn, juniors Nikki Cunningham and Tameka Kernen; sophomores Dakota Kuhn and Cassandra Henderson; and freshmen Emily Rine, Ashley Miller, Mady Wheeler, and Meliah Umstead. With 17 girls out this season, the Lady Hornets will have enough girls to have a junior varsity team.
"Tennant will need to become more assertive on the boards this season," said Kelch, "and be looking to post up, She also will have to do a lot more scoring in the paint.
"Ebert has improved immensely on her game over last season, and will need to play all the perimeter positions, including point guard and become more confident on both sides of the ball.
"Topp was a very good defender a season ago and I expect her to fine tune her skills and become an offensive threat. as well. I cannot elaborate much on the other girls until they can get court time and some game experience.
"If we can stay injury free and can keep Tennant out of foul trouble, we could have a nice season," Kelch predicted.
"It all starts on defense," he continued, "and once we get a few games under our belts, I believe the girls will enjoy the way we are wanting them to play this season. Hopefully, they'll see the five Ds - Desire, Determination, Dedication, Discipline, and Defense. If we don't play with the five Ds, then that's another story."
Kelch observed that if the Lady Hornet inside game develops both offensively and defensively, and they can get the ball down the floor, "we could become very good by year's end. From top to bottom, we are inexperienced. Once the younger players start to get that game experience, they will be able to defend and pick up the entire offensive system. I can show them how to play, but they have to do it. They have to step up, not back, and get better each day."
Kelch and Tustin added, "You can win games when you don't have the ball. If our girls can get down and shuffle their feet and play good defense, we can do quite well."
The Lady Hornets will open the 2012-13 season at home against Cameron Nov. 27 and will play in the Bob and Sharon Burton Holiday Tournament at Paden City on Nov. 30.