The GHS Ridgerunnr and Lady Red basketball teams begin their new seasons in two varying situations.
For the Ridgerunners the new campaign will be one of wholesale changes. The team has graduated six seniors from last year’s Area Tournament-advancing group. Those players accounted for 85 per cent of the GHS scoring last season.
Meanwhile, the Lady Red graduated two starters and has a host of players returning to a team that swept the NEO Tournament last season.
The early signs for the Ridgerunners’ new group of starters were encouraging Tuesday night as GHS pulled out a big fourth quarter to down Wyandotte 51-39.
“It’s a new team,” Ridgerunner head coach Doug Winters said. “I was curious to see how the new kids would handle the pressure, the responsibility, the lights, everything that goes with being a starter.”
Senior Josh Harjo has upped his game for the new season according to the head coach.
Fellow senior Jake Martin led the team in scoring during their season opener with 16 points. He also possesses good speed and ball handling.
The Lady Red return a trio of starters: Peri Lane, Rachel Allington, and Logan Cook.
Juniors Kelsey Kerr, Kenzie Miller, and Shae Scott return as well. All three saw extensive playing time last season.
“We played 13 kids tonight,” head coach Richard Bassett said after his team’s season opening win over Wyandotte. “Ten of those players had extensive minutes. That kind of rotation makes it difficult for defenses.”
A trio of new faces who could become impact players, according to the coach, joins the group of vets.
Freshman Taylor Dodson saw a number of minutes in Tuesday’s season opener.
“We wouldn’t bring a freshman up just to sit them on the bench,” Bassett explained. “She’s averaging over 20 points a game in the freshman games so she’s good enough to be on the varsity.”
Sophomore Sarah Green is described as a great ball handler and shooter by her coach and Kat Johnson has impressed with her defensive skills.
An early set back for the Lady Ridgerunners is a shoulder injury to projected post-starter Kori Watkins. She will have further examinations later this week and the team is hopeful for her return.
The move to Class 5A for Grove is something that both coaches have taken into consideration in their planning for the post-season. Class 5A doesn’t feature a district round, teams advance directly into regionals. A first-round loss there means the end of the season.
“To compete in 5A we’ll need to put more pressure on teams late in the games,” Winters said.
“Six or seven of the top ten teams in 5A are going to be bracketed with us on the East side,” Bassett allowed. “It’s going to be tough.”