NEW PARIS — The National Trail girls’ basketball team is returning its top three scorers to start the 2015-16 season, but will be counting on four freshmen to help fill the void left by graduation from last year’s team who finished the season with 11 wins and 12 losses.
Head coach Troy Ferguson believes the return of senior Miranda Mize, the leading scorer from a year ago, will help steady the team early but knows a young roster has to gain experience.
“We’re going to be playing a bunch of young kids,” he said. “We’re going to have some inexperience, so there will be some growing pains, especially early on when we have four freshmen playing varsity minutes.”
Mize will have plenty of help from returning players. Peyton Laird, a junior forward, returns as the team’s second leading scorer from last season.
Junior Bri Dillow is expected to return as the team’s starting point after taking over the role in the middle of last season as a sophomore.
Sophomore forward JaLynn Byrd also returns to the team, giving the team its three leading scorers from last season and providing the Blazers with plenty of scoring options returning to the roster.
“Having our top three scorers back will be a big help, in our scrimmages they, along with our athleticism and quickness, have been our strengths,” Ferguson said after seeing his team play.
Senior Katie Stan returns to the program after not playing the previous season and will be the team’s tallest player at 5’9.”
Ferguson is concerned about inexperience, having never played more than two freshmen to start the season before, but he expects four to see varsity game time on opening night. He described the group of freshmen as a smart and athletic group who knows the game well.
“We may take some lumps early on because they are still freshmen,” Ferguson said, but he wants his team to play freely. “They are going to make mistakes and we’ve been telling them you’re going to make mistakes and that’s fine, just make mistakes playing at 100 percent.”
Ferguson also said the team will only have three true post players on the roster and is concerned about rebounding. “We’re going to be out-sized across the board pretty much every night, so we have to find the toughness and grittiness to do our jobs on the boards.”
Ferguson said to expect his team to play at a faster rate than in previous years as he tries to play to his team’s strengths of quickness and defensive ability.
“Our goal is to get better every day,” Ferguson said of the upcoming season. “We’re not playing the wins and losses game but we just want to get better every day and compete night in and night out.”
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Haley Baker and Charisse Hoblit and freshmen, Gracie Jones, Savanna Abner, Bobbi Grimes and Evan Byrd.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062.