Head Coach Jeremy Coach of the Lady Hornet Basketball Team will need to get the ball to senior Lindsay Jones (5'8") if he wants to put together a nice season to match last year.
Jones was just short in becoming a triple-double player last season in points, rebounds and steals. She is an excellent foul shooter, and, along with junior Paige Shriver, Kelch has a very nice one-two combination.
However, losing center Katie Tennant to graduation - along with Emily Ebert and Oshana Topp - will make it harder for Kelch to stay competitive with a slew of youngsters at his disposal this season.
Jones and junior guard Shriver are the only two starters back from a season ago, while senior Nikki Cunningham came off the bench. Senior Tameka Kernen saw limited play last season, mostly at the JV level, so the Hornets are looking to fill the void created by graduation.
Kelch and new Assistant Coach Diane Wheeler do have numbers on their side, with 18 ladies lacing up their shoes this season. However, with only three players with very much varsity experience, they will need juniors Sara Crichfield, Elaine Topp, and Dakota Kuhn to step up
Others who will need to do the same are sophomores Meliah Umstead, Josie Phillips, Mady Wheeler, Emily Rine and Ashley Miller if the Hornets wants to 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 sophomore Phillips, who, he said, "Isn't afraid to play and has all the tools to become another great Lady Hornet basketball player."
For the Hornets to get some wins, Jones and Shriver will need to play big. Cunningham, Crichfield, Phillips and Rine look to be fighting it out for the three other slots. Kuhn is injured but should be back in form by late January or early February to give the Hornets a shot in the arm. Miller and Umstead will get a lot of time at the varsity level, and Soles, Wheeler and Goff will be battling for the final varsity uniform.
"With numbers up, competition is high," said Kelch.
There are six freshmen out this season and Kelch hopes that he can find those one or two special girls that can help keep the Hornets in ball games and compete with the big girls.
Those looking to be that someone special could be Madeline Goff, Kenli Barr, Macy Long, Hailey Eastham, Deidra Morris and Valerie Soles, the tallest player on the team at 6'1."
"If we can stay injury free and can keep Jones healthy and 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 belt, 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 his cagers' inside game can develop consistently, both offensively and defensively, and they can get the ball down the floor, "we could open some eyes 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 Wheeler 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.
"This is the hardest working bunch I have had. They might not be as talented as groups in the past, but they get after it," Kelch explained. "Teams are looking for us to be down after a big graduation, but I think we will surprise some people."
The Lady Hornets will open with six home games to start the 2013-14 season, beginning with Paden City on Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Beallsville, Dec. 5.