The end of the 2016-17 season was a cross of good and bad for the Lebanon High School girls basketball team.
The good was that the Warriors advanced to the Division I sectional finals.
The bad? A 54-31 loss to rival Springboro that ended their tournament run.
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
“That was our most lopsided loss of last season,” Lebanon coach Rob Hodges said. “We identify that our final showing of last season was not our best effort and are motivated by our new combination of players who are hungry to demonstrate a new era of Lebanon basketball.”
The sectional-final loss was the Warriors’ lone double-digit defeat during a 16-8 campaign which included a 6-5 finish in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National West Division to finish second behind Springboro.
While the Warriors lost mainstay Rachel Perry to graduation along with Alex Warning and Carinne Hughes, they have a lot coming back. Not just in quantity, but quality.
Miami University signee Alexis Straw returns for her senior campaign after earning Player of the Year honors in the GWOC National West.
The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 16.5 points to go with 6.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a junior.
Two-year starter Ashley West — a 5-8 guard — returns for her junior campaign, while 5-7 senior guard Sydney Hanna returns from a knee injury that ended her season 10 games in last year. When she got injured, Hanna was averaging 6.8 points per game.
Ashley Popp, now a 5-7 sophomore guard, took advantage of Hanna’s injury and stepped into a starting role for the Warriors, averaging 2.8 points per game.
“We think we can build upon last season’s 16 wins,” Hodges said. “We’ve got key upperclass leaders who are supported by energetic newcomers.”
Point guard Kendall Folley (5-6) is one of four freshmen Hodges will count on for a lot of minutes.
While Folley will be out top, classmates Molly Lane (5-10), Sid Rigsby (5-10) and Bella Dunn (5-8) will help in the post with senior transfer Eva White (5-9).
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
With the season opener looming Monday night at Hamilton, Hodges is seeing the progress he was hoping for as the new parts and returnees develop a chemistry.
“The preseason for us is about setting a tone about how we want to play,” Hodges said. “We want daily challenges for our players through practices and scrimmages and finding ways to learn from positive play and adversity.”
And Hodges knows the GWOC will provide more adversity than in the past.
In addition to rival Springboro being the odds-on favorite to defend its National West title, Miamisburg is in Year 2 of a rebuild under Allison Jaynes, and Northmont has a solid nucleus coming back.
Crossover games against National East opponents Beavercreek, Springfield, Fairmont, Centerville and Wayne will count in the divisional standings.
“The GWOC will be the toughest it has ever been,” Hodges said. “The area’s 2018 class is the most talented class of players in a while and has made many GWOC teams very deep and more competitive.”
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