NEW MADISON – Tri-Village enters the 2016-17 girls basketball season with an experienced group of players who have helped lead the Patriots to back-to-back Cross County Conference championships the past two years.
Tri-Village has five returning lettermen from last year’s squad, which won the CCC title with a perfect 12-0 league record. Among those five are three returning starters – Allie Downing, Danika Mann and Rachel Miller.
“The strength of our team this year will be the returning experience that we have,” Tri-Village coach Brad Gray said. “The kids who were our go-to players last year return so that is always a good thing. It is also nice to have a point guard who is entering her fourth year as a varsity player. To me, having an experienced point guard is something that you can’t put a price on. That experience goes a long way in helping to bring our talented young kids along.”
Miller is the starting point guard for the Patriots. The senior was named second team all-CCC last year after leading all Darke County girls with 4.9 assists per game.
Mann, who was named first team all-CCC last year, is Tri-Village’s starting post player. The senior averaged 11.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a game last year.
Dowler will return as a starting wing for the Patriots. The Belmont Abbey College commit was named the CCC girls basketball player of the year last season after averaging 19.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Projected to join the starting lineup this season are a pair of wing players – sophomore Emma Printz and junior Autaum Moore, both of whom are returning lettermen. Printz was named special mention all-CCC last season
Key players coming off the bench this year will be sophomore post player Edie Morris, freshman wing Trisa Porter and sophomore point guard Peyton Bietry.
Tri-Village will play similar to years past, looking to play the game fast in transition, have solid half-court defense and value its possessions.
“Defensively we will mainly be a half-court man defensive team,” Gray said. “We will mix in some other things as well to keep teams on their toes, but our bread and butter will be the half-court man. Offensively, we like to mix up our sets depending on what personnel we have on the floor.”
Having established itself as one of the top programs around, Tri-Village once again has high expectations for the upcoming season.
“Our expectations are high once again this year,” Gray said. “Our main goal is always to win the next one. I’m a big believer that if you keep that as your focus throughout the year and can be successful at doing that then everything else takes care of itself. Our kids are itching to get back on the floor and hopefully competing at a high level.”
In order to reach its goals, Gray said the Patriots will need to be better at finishing game.
“I think where we struggled some last year was with finishing games,” he said. “In all of our losses last year we had leads in the second half that didn’t hold up. That is something that I am hoping we have learned from and we will be better at this year. The ability to finish will be a huge factor in whether or not this year goes as we all hope it goes.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.