By Ken Barhorst
SIDNEY — There weren’t a lot of wins last season, but it was part of the building process for head coach Craig Hall and the Lehman girls basketball team.
Not long ago, there weren’t enough players to put a junior varsity team on the floor, but that has all changed under Hall.
“I’m really excited about this year,” said the coach. “So far practices have been very upbeat and it’s a whole different attitude than what we’ve had in the past. We’ve got numbers and people that can play, and that’s meant competition for positions. And we’re not going to have to cancel JV games.
“We’ve got a lot more numbers this year, which will allow us to change our style,” he continued. “There are 24 kids out in the program, and we’ll be able to do some different things knowing we have a bench to turn to. And the competition has been great. In the past, the girls knew they were going to play a lot regardless of how they performed. And we have a nice incoming freshman class with a lot of good athletes. We’ve been trying to build this program the last three years, and things are starting to fall into place.”
The Lady Cavs finished with a 5-18 record last season, but challenged for the Northwest Central Conference title, finishing 4-2 in league contests.
Hall has eight girls returning from that team, which is cause for his optimism. He has his top two scorers and top two rebounders returning, and can build from there. And he’s excited about the return of Kassie Lee, who was unable to play at all last season because of a knee injury.
Heading the list of returning players is 5-foot-10 senior Allie Hall, who averaged 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season, both team highs.
“Allie will still be a key player, but we’re going to be able to have a lot more balance this year,” said the coach. “We’ve struggled to put points on the board the last few years so we’re concentrating a lot on that.”
Hannah Fogt is a junior who is also in the 5-11 range, and she was second to Hall in scoring at 6.5 and second in rebounding at 5.2 a year ago. “She gives us some mid-range jumpers, and does a good job of penetrating,” said the coach.
Sophomore Brogan McIver played all varsity last year as a freshman, and Hall said she’s improved her ball-handling, and has good quickness and good defensive abilities. And Alanna O’Leary is another sophomore who saw a lot of playing time as a freshman, and Hall is counting on her for her defense and ball-handling.
Emilee Rego is a six-foot senior who will be a welcome presence inside, and Abby Jones and Maddy McFarland are two sophomores that Hall is glad to have back. “They are both very smart players as far as being in the right place. And they see the floor very well,” he said.
And Hall is happy to have Lee back in the mix. “She will help us,” he said. “She is all out, all the time, just a hustler. And she’s really worked hard on her perimeter game. She’s a good physical player down low.”