With their two leading scorers back and a group of enthusiastic freshmen joining the varsity roster, the Western Lady Indians are ready to hit the court running.
Western concluded last season with an overall record of 11-13 and went 7-7 in Southern Ohio Conference Division I play. Western lost third-leading scorer Kylie Tong to graduation. However, the Lady Indians had the largest scoring load carried by then-juniors Sylvia Evans and Haley Whitt. Evans averaged 13.5 points per game, while having the job of slowing the opponent’s best player. Whitt turned in a double-double average of 10 points and 10 rebounds per game. For her efforts, Whitt was named Second Team All-SOC I and Third Team All-Southeast District.
“We have eight returning players,” said Western coach Mike Jordan. “Sylvia is going to have a great season. She really put her time in this summer and worked on her game. She has shown flashes of what she can do. Of course, Haley just about guarantees a double-double every game.”
The other returning players besides Evans and Whitt include sophomore Abby Gast, sophomore Carson Walls, junior Taylor Horner, sophomore Brooklyn Tackett, senior Katie Miller and junior Katrina Donahue. New players include freshmen Sakayla Beckett, Taylor Grooms, Alyssa Marhoover, Chloe Beekman, Abbi Grooms and Kiela Gullett.
“Brooklyn Tackett has surprised me this year. She was here all summer working on her game. We completely changed her shot, so she is more confident with it now. Brooklyn plays very good defense. She is really aggressive,” said Jordan.
“Katie Miller has probably improved more than anyone on our team. She had a really good summer and has gotten a lot more confident. Katie will play in the post for us and will get a lot more playing time this year.”
Gast was limited last season with back issues, but Jordan hopes she can play more this season.
“I’m guessing that Abby is about 90 percent,” said Jordan. “If Abby is ready to go, she will be our starting point guard. She is doing a lot better.”
Three freshmen — Alyssa Marhoover, Chloe Beekman, and Taylor Grooms — are expected to contribute immediately.
“Those three were very surprising over the summer. They are very aggressive and will fit right in with our game plan. Chloe’s offense is further ahead than most of our players. Taylor and Alyssa are doing really well with defense,” said Jordan.
“We are probably going to press and run most of the year, and we will have nine girls to do it. We are hoping to wear teams out. We have enough girls to play that style this year. It is going to be fun.”
Horner is also going to be a defensive stopper for the Lady Indians and may provide some offense this year as well.
“In one of our scrimmages, Taylor Horner hit eight straight shots. Taylor is coming off of (Western’s first junior varsity) football season where she was a starting defensive back. She is really quick and aggressive,” said Jordan. “We could have any of five different girls get double figures in our games this year.”
Jordan feels the Southern Ohio Conference Division I title will run through Notre Dame with senior center Katie Dettwiller, who stands 6-foot-4, leading the way.
“I think Notre Dame will be the best team. Notre Dame is good, but not nearly as good as last year. The big girl is the difference. No one can match up with her size,” said Jordan. “On paper, Clay should be the second team in the standings. I think we are going to have a good year.”
The Lady Indians will face Notre Dame on the road to begin the season on Thursday, Nov. 29.