BROOKVILLE — Very young a year ago, the Brookville Lady Raiders basketball team head into this season without a senior on the roster.
The difference? This year’s squad has eight players back with significant varsity experience from last year’s 6-16 season as head coach Mark Powell starts his 16th year with a 182-182 record.
Powell’s Lady Raiders lost their top two scorers to graduation, but it came off a balanced scoring team with no player averaging in double figures. He hopes the balance continues along with overall improvement across the board.
“I think a lot of what we did last year was to better prepare for this year and with a lot of kids back who gained experience, we’re hoping to lean on some of that experience,” Powell said. “Last year, we had a lot of inexperience. … We’re cautiously optimistic about where this team could be come February.”
The youngsters who got all of the valuable experience were sophomores Morgan and Madison Johnson, Kira Powell, Madison McAninch and Marcy Schindler, and juniors Jillian Taylor, Lexis Hatzinikolas and Jenna Grant.
All of those players scored no more Morgan Johnson’s 4.5 points per game, so the Lady Raiders are looking for points while trying to keep their physical defensive approach and eliminate the turnover bug that was costly in more than one game.
“We’ve got to take care of the basketball,” Powell said. “I’m still not sure how we’re going to score, but I’m hopeful if we can create turnovers and easy baskets and not give up easy baskets and when we win that turnover battle, more often than not we come out on the winning end.”
“Certainly we want to flip that (turnover) ratio around. We want to continue to try to cause the turnovers and play that style of game. However, I hope we can take care of the basketball better.”
Both Johnsons, Powell, Taylor and McAninch will play in the guard spots. The group will play a huge role in cutting down on the turnovers.
“It’ll be ball-handling by committee,” Powell said. “We’re going to see pressure, that’s what teams are going to try to do and we work hard every night on those different concepts. I think we’re prepared for it.”
Morgan Johnson (4.5 ppg.) is the team’s leading returning scorer, Powell led the team in 3-pointers (18) and Taylor led the team in steals (55).
Schindler, Hatzinikolas and Grant will see playing time inside at the forward spots with sophomore Lauren Hergert challenging for varsity minutes. Schindler led the team in rebounding at 6.5 per game. They’ll need her again in that area along with scoring, but the rebounding is a big factor to the team’s success.
“We have got to rebound the basketball better,” Powell said. “I never really felt the first shot hurt us last year, it was the second and third ones and the fouls that resulted after that and that’s really an area we have to do better at.”
Also vying for varsity minutes are juniors Mikayla Aikins, Bailey Ganoe and Sophie Sharp, and sophomores Leah Kammerdeiner and Brooke Ganoe.
The year of experience for most of his roster, Powell hopes, will help flip things around and get the Lady Raiders back into playoff contention.
“When you watched our team last year, from November to end of January we struggled in close games, lost a lot of close games last year, but when we got into February, we won a few games and ended the season on a strong note,” Powell said. “That built into March and April and into the offseason and this team has grown with confidence. We didn’t have that before last season. The gaining of experience last year we hope plays dividends.”
Jim and Madison Hill are back on Powell’s coaching staff.
The season begins this weekend at the Lady Raiders’ own tip-off tournament, starting Friday with Clarion-Limestone.
Juniors: Mikayla Aikins, Bailey Ganoe, Lexis Hatzinikolas, Sophie Sharp, Jenna Grant, Jillian Taylor.
Sophomores: Morgan Johnson, Madison Johnson, Marcy Schindler, Kira Powell, Leah Kammerdeiner, Lauren Hergert, Madison McAninch.
Freshmen: Maggie Mackins, Taylor Reitz, Avery Gilhousen, Rilee Kelly, Regan Ganoe.
8-Tip-Off Tournament vs. C-L, 6 p.m.
9-Tip-Off Tournament vs. North Clarion or Clearfield, TBA
15-at Elk Co. Catholic
27-Christmas Tournament vs. DuBois CC, 7 p.m.
28-Christmas Tournament vs. Brockway or DuBois, TBA
8-at Redbank Valley
25-at St. Marys
7-Elk Co. Catholic
— Junior varsity begins at 6 p.m. with varsity to follow with exception of tournament schedules.