Prep girls basketball: Yablonsky has some rebuilding to do at MCS

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Prep girls basketball: Yablonsky has some rebuilding to do at MCS

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Middletown Christian’s Anna Crawford shoots while being covered by Fayetteville’s Haley Moore (21) and Margo Thompson (15) during their Division IV sectional game at Monroe on Feb. 21, 2017. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Middletown Christian School’s girls basketball fortunes have shifted a bit since last season.

The Eagles were 10-13 last year, won a Division IV sectional game and nearly won another behind the high-scoring junior duo of Aubriana Bellard and Kayla Arington.

Ken Yablonsky was expecting to have a Metro Buckeye Conference contender in 2017-18 with those players returning, but Bellard and Arington have transferred to Middletown and Lakota Christian, respectively.

GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

Throw in the departures of Tiffany Kim and Jada Long via graduation, and MCS has to replace 53.5 points and 30.3 rebounds per game.

“We definitely have our work cut out for us,” said Yablonsky, starting his second season at the helm. “Besides the two that transferred, everybody else came back, so I’m proud of that. That means they at least had a good time and are supportive of one another. They’re playing this sport to develop the character traits that sports can bring out, the non-tangible things, the hard work, the life lessons.

“Our league lost a lot of players, so that benefits us. There’s games on our schedule we can definitely compete in this year. We’re trying to win those games and develop and improve in some of our other games.”

Anna Crawford, a 5-foot-8 junior, and 5-8 sophomore Ellie Veal are the top returnees.

Crawford is the lone returning starter and was a post player last year while averaging 1.3 points and 3.7 boards per game. She’s moving to a wing position this season.

“Anna’s truly a soccer player, but she’s athletic, she can jump, and she works extremely hard,” Yablonsky said. “She’ll be our on-the-court leader.”

GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

Veal is the point guard, having collected 2.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest last year.

Senior guard Jordan Wolfenbarger (5-4) figures to be a starter, as does 5-7 sophomore center Xyann Fisher. Yablonsky said 5-5 senior Hannah Quigley, 5-4 sophomore Hannah Sponsel, 5-5 sophomore Ari Pagnard and 5-5 freshman Marissa Lykins are fighting for the other spot.

Fisher should lead the Eagles on the boards, and Wolfenbarger has the ability to hit from the outside. Veal can shoot the 3-pointer as well.

Sophomores Hannah Pohl (5-9) and Jas’Marie Tompkins (5-7) are first-year basketball players, though Yablonsky is optimistic about their rebounding skills.

“We’re focusing on fundamentals,” Yablonsky said. “We’re going to have to play good defense to be competitive in games. We’re going to try to use some of their smarts and their aptitudes to get a couple defensive schemes going. We’ll be mainly a zone team, but we want to give our opponents different looks so we’re not as predictable.

“Offensively, we’re going to have to avoid turnovers and take good shots. We want to be a little more patient than we were last year, but I don’t really want to get in a halfcourt game. I’d rather have us get some transition baskets.

“These kids are great to work with. They will do anything you ask them to do. We just don’t have a lot of experience on the court right now.”

MCS, which doesn’t have a junior varsity team, opens the season at Springfield Catholic Central on Nov. 27 at 6 p.m.

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