ANSONIA – The Ansonia girls basketball team will build around four girls who enter this season with a lot of varsity experience.
Senior Bailey Stammen, senior Katie Werts, junior Trinity Henderson and junior Kassy Wentworth all return to the Tigers’ lineup this season after seeing significant varsity time a year ago.
“You can’t ever replace experience,” Ansonia coach Jim Bolin said. “It’s a nice thing to have.”
Henderson and Stammen were Ansonia’s top two scorers last season with Henderson averaging 12.0 points per game and Stammen contributing 10.1 points per contest.
The Tigers do have some holes to fill as they lost three seniors to graduation – Ashton Bradham, Stefani Garrett and Jailyn Thwaits. Garrett led the Tigers in assists last season while Thwaits was the team’s leading rebounder.
Ansonia has a number of players vying to fill those voids.
“The fifth starter we’re searching for,” Bolin said. “We don’t really have a fifth starter yet.”
Bolin would like to see his third senior, Millie Widener, take control of the final starting spot after seeing limited varsity action last year.
Juniors Aleesha Gates and Heidi Runkel also are pushing for playing time along with sophomores Abigail Powers and Makayla Stover.
Also contending for time on the varsity roster are freshmen Kayle Griffin and Kierra Reichert.
“I’ve got a host of freshmen that are nice players, but it’s kind of hard for freshmen to step in and play varsity right away,” Bolin said.
Having the freshmen step up would be big for Ansonia as Griffin at 5 feet 10 inches and Reichert at 5 feet 11 inches are the Tigers’ two tallest players.
“We’re a little bit short on height this year,” Bolin said.
Ansonia does have some athleticism this season and would like to utilize a faster pace of play.
“If it presents itself, we’ll try to be up-tempo,” Bolin said.
While he’d like to move up and down the floor quickly, Bolin said, the Tigers need to protect the ball and could be forced into more half-court situations if turnovers become an issue.
“We can’t turn the ball over,” he said. “We have to take care of the basketball.”
Ansonia has been successful in scrimmages this season and thinks it could be one of the top contenders in the Cross County Conference.
“As long as we compete in every game I can’t say a whole lot,” Bolin said.
The Tigers have a strong core to build around, but their success could be predicated on the development of some young players.
“We are young, but at the same time we have the experience at the varsity level,” Bolin said.
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.