Lakewood coach Phil Sikorski almost was apologetic when discussing his team’s lack of size.
Sikorski does not want to play junior Daphne Cable and sophomore Micaela Garner in the post, but he has to use the cards he was dealt. Each is athletic enough to play on the perimeter, but at 5-foot-8, that duo will have to play amongst the tall trees on the Lancers’ schedule.
“(Cable) is 5-8, and (Garner) is 5-8,” Sikorski said. “That is as big as I get. They are going to have to guard these bigger girls. They go really hard, but sometimes you can’t teach size.”
Size is just one of the hurdles Lakewood has to clear this season. Sikorski has had a couple senior-laden rosters during his tenure, and the experience eventually cycles out. Junior Brandee Painter is Lakewood’s only returning letterwinner.
“(Cable) is going to play the post, but she is built with a guard’s body,” Sikorski said. “She has had an incredible offseason. She has worked so hard to prepare herself.”
The good news is the youth provides a starting point for a program that dropped back to four wins after nine wins and a Division II tournament upset of Bishop Hartley two years ago. The Lancers have 22 girls in the high school program — half are freshmen.
“The talent really is coming, but this class is just fantastic kids,” Sikorski said. “They want to learn and get better.”
One of the other newcomers is a sophomore. Callie Giacomelli already has started two seasons on the varsity volleyball team, and she now has returned to the basketball court.
Giacomelli, another at 5-8, brings an edge from that varsity experience. Sikorski is hoping her spirit rubs off on such a young roster.
“(Giacomelli) has come in with that mentality that she has to get it done,” Sikorski said. “She brings it hard every single night. I appreciate how easy she is to coach, and I think the other girls have latched onto her and followed her lead.”
Sheridan Leistikow is Lakewood’s only senior. She scored a team-high 11 points in a season-opening loss to New Lexington, and sophomore Emily Kidwell had six assists.
In the past, Sikorski has not been shy about using 10 or 12 players during the course of a game, but that mostly was by necessity to attempt to match up with the top teams in the Mid-State League-Ohio Division. He would prefer to shorten his rotation if he sees players step away from the pack.
“It always seems like the separation hasn’t been as distinct as it could be,” Sikorski said. “We are starting to find that.”
Lakewood will play a small freshman schedule and a full reserve schedule, but one freshman certain to see varsity time is Elaina Davenport. Davenport missed much of the summer because of illness, then played volleyball in the fall, but she hit the ground running this month.
“I am slowly bringing (Davenport) along,” Sikorski said. “That experience, I am kind of counting on it. She is going to be somebody that can help us.”