Prep girls basketball: Offseason changes for Middletown, Monroe

The offseason has included some changes for the Middletown and Monroe prep girls basketball teams.

Some good, some not so good.

Middletown coach Kevin Aldridge has gotten a pair of transfers who are seniors this year, forward Aubriana Bellard from Middletown Christian and guard Aliyah Burks from Miamisburg.

But the Middies lost Olivia Wells-Daniels, a standout freshman in 2016-17 who has moved on to Monroe.

“I’m definitely optimistic,” Aldridge said. “It’s kind of like NBA free agency. You do the best you can with what you have and see what happens.”

Bellard averaged 24.7 points, 13 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game last season for MCS, while Burks played point guard for the Burg.

The Middies were 5-18 overall and 2-14 in the Greater Miami Conference last year with a squad that only had two seniors.

“We had the youngest team in the conference and had some high expectations, but obviously when you’re dealing with a lot of youth and inexperience, you’re going to take some bumps in the road,” Aldridge said. “But we’ve gotten two pleasant surprises in the offseason.

“One of the things we’re working on for this upcoming season is building a positive culture. I think if you can build a positive team culture, it will lead to positive team success. I believe players like Aubriana and Aliyah can help me do that along with the girls I have coming back.”

Burks collected 4 points, 1.9 boards and 0.6 assists per game as a junior. Her mother Kim is the third-leading scorer in Middletown history.

Aldridge said Burks and sophomore Ari Layne will share point-guard duties this year.

“I didn’t really know much about Aliyah,” Aldridge said. “I do remember a solid player when we played Miamisburg in the season opener last year.

“You hardly know she’s there because she’s so quiet, but she works hard. I like her skill set and bringing some senior leadership and experience to the team.”

Aldridge is more familiar with Bellard and has previously trained her. He described her as “a high-character kid.”

The Middletown coach conceded that moving from the Metro Buckeye Conference to the GMC almost certainly will decrease Bellard’s statistics.

“Once it was official, we had conversations about that,” Aldridge said. “At the end of the day it’s basketball, but it is a different speed. There will be an adjustment period coming over to the GMC, but I do believe as long as she maintains a positive attitude and keeps working the way I’ve known her to be a hard worker, she’ll fit in just fine.”

Wells-Daniels was one of the Middies’ top players last season, averaging 13 points and 8 boards per game. She’s joined a Monroe squad that went 20-5 last year with just one senior.

The bad news for the Hornets is that junior guard Katie Sloneker, arguably their best player in 2016-17, won’t play this season after undergoing knee surgery in June.

“It’s all kind of crazy. It should be an interesting year,” Monroe coach Chad Allen said. “Luckily I have a really nice freshman class coming in and some young girls that played varsity last year.”

Allen had never seen Wells-Daniels play before this summer.

“They just open-enrolled at the end of last year, so it was kind of out of the blue for me,” Allen said. “Hopefully this will be a good fit for her. Everything tells me that she’s going to be a Division I basketball player in college.”

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