Prep girls basketball: Inexperienced Cougars hope to defend SWOC title

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Prep girls basketball: Inexperienced Cougars hope to defend SWOC title

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Edgewood’s Tori Childers dribbles the ball while being defended by Hamilton’s Alicia Arce during their game Nov. 25, 2016, at Edgewood. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

On the way to finishing an impressive 20-4 last season, Greg Brown’s Edgewood High School girls basketball team lost twice to nonconference foe Lebanon, including in the second round of the Division I sectional.

Edgewood and the Warriors are scheduled to meet this season on Dec. 30 at EHS. Brown hopes that by then, his youthful Cougars have accumulated some valuable experience.

The defending Southwest Ohio Conference outright champions, who went 11-1 and lost only to Talawanda by three points in the league, go into this season with just three seniors — including one in 5-foot-10 forward Amanda Effler, who didn’t play last season.

“The positive is they’re working hard,” Brown, who was named the SWOC Coach of the Year last season for the second time in the last three seasons, said. “Our overall concern is lack of experience. We lost five seniors.”

GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

Among them was first-team All-SWOC guard Lauren Gerber, who led Edgewood in scoring (10.3) and rebounding (4.9). Also graduating was honorable-mention Jessa Brown, a 5-5 guard who tied Cierra Lipps for the team lead in assists with an average of 1.4 per game.

Lipps, a first-team All-SWOC pick after averaging 9.5 points per game last season, and 5-7 guard Tori Childers, who averaged 2.4 points per game last season, are Edgewood’s returning seniors.

“Lipps and Childers are providing leadership,” Brown said.

Among the returning players are 5-6 junior guard Emma Allen, 5-8 junior guard Amber Moore and 5-6 sophomore guard Zoe Stephens.

Brown had identified a tentative starting five after practices and scrimmages against Miamisburg and Oak Hills, but he also was looking at a mixture of reasons for optimism and concern from a roster that includes four juniors, four sophomores and one freshman.

“I like our effort and execution,” he said “Our area of concern is our depth. We have a lot of young girls who are working hard, but they lack varsity experience.

“We’re playing well. In our two scrimmages, the girls have been stepping up and doing the right things, but anytime you have young girls, there is concern. So far, they’ve shown that they can handle it.

“Honestly, what we’ve been impressed with the most is their ability to be a team overall. It hasn’t been just one person showing what they can do. It’s been more like a multitude of them bonding. Our confidence and effort have been outstanding.

“In scrimmages, we don’t gauge results as far as the scoreboard effect. Our execution is more important than winning the scrimmages. It’s how they’re winning the internal battles.

“We’ve got a starting five, but the girls who start Game 1 might not start Game 2. They have to accept their role, and that role might change.”

Browns feels that his roster is versatile enough to not only handle different starting fives from game to game, but also different approaches to each game.

“We take the approach that we take each game and break it down and see what we can do,” he said. “What is our strength against this team? We don’t have one style of play. We can slow it down or we can speed it up. We’ll take what we do best and gear it against the opponent’s weaknesses.”

Edgewood is scheduled to open the season on Nov. 28 at Fenwick. The Cougars are due to tip off their home schedule on Nov. 30 against Winton Woods before opening defense of their SWOC championship on Dec. 2 at Northwest against a Knights team that finished second in the conference last season.

“I think there’s definitely some talented teams this season,” Brown said about the SWOC. “Little Miami is a team that’s well-coached and has a lot of kids returning. There’s a lot of improvement across the board.”

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