Four starters return to the Dukes this season as the girls basketball team tries to top an impressive 2016 in which it finished 15-9 before falling in the sectional finals to Lutheran West.
Junior forward Alexis Lehmkuhl will patrol the paint and help create space for fellow starters Hope Diermyer, Jalen Gibbs, and Erin Frenk.
As coach Nathan Morris enters his third season at the helm, he says the cycle of last year’s younger players now becoming leaders and showing new underclassmen the way ropes will be vital.
“The key to last year was just coming together as a group,” he said. “Our older girls did a great job of meshing with the younger girls and we played very well together. It’s really the same thing this year with those younger girls now stepping up to be leaders.”
Underclassmen stepping into the spotlight this year include Micah Smiley, Lexi Wright, Julia Molek, and Brooklinn Damiano. Seniors Amber Wetherbee and Myra Gardner will also log consistent minutes off the bench, Morris said.
The team dropped its season opener on Friday to Wooster Triway 35-31.
“We have a pretty young team so it will be a matter of how we grow together,” said Morris. “We have to beat some of the teams that have been at the top of our league. Last year we had five losses in the league and they were to great teams. Keystone beat us twice, Buckeye beat us twice, and Lutheran West beat us once. In order for us to take the next step, we have to beat those teams.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.