Last year’s talented trio of senior guards left a lot of open space for Tessa Brouillette to knock down 3-pointers or drive to the basket.
Now Brouillette is the team’s lone senior and knows those gaps aren’t going to be there as she becomes the focal point of opposing defenses.
“I am a senior. I am supposed to step up my game and show what I have,” said Brouillette, who made 42.5 percent of her 3s last season. “It’s not just me. My teammates have to be leaders too.”
Out of necessity, BC relied on freshmen Kaylan Coffman and Katie Shields last season. Now as sophomores, they become two of the most experienced players on the team.
“You can see a definite change in them, this year,” Brouillette said. “They are going to be a big help to our team this year. They are going to be the main keys to our team.”
Junior defensive stopper Evonnie Payne’s role also increases and she’ll be asked to produce more offensively after averaging 2.2 points off the bench last season. Last year’s senior group of Caitlyn Tolen, Cassidy Deno and Courtney Lester took a lot of pressure off the post players. Now they’re hopeing to use the confidence gained last season and contributing in larger roles.
“We have good leaders. It keeps progressing down as people come up (to the varsity),” Shields said. “We learn from the best and it’s a good system we have here in our program.”
This season, there’s a lot of players BC will need to become impact players. It starts with freshman post player Betsy Marquie and freshmen guards Taylor Tucker and Maddie Tolen.
Junior guard Courtney Best has a deadly outside shot, and sophomore Hunter Rice is a strong defensive presence.
“We did lose our top three players, but we’ve been working a lot on getting up and down the court on fast breaks,” Coffman said. “We have a lot of hard work and dedication put in at every practice.”
Coach David Baxter perhaps said it best while looking out over a practice floor full of mostly freshmen and sophomores.
“We’ve got a lot of growing up to do in a short amount of time,” Baxter said.
But don’t confuse a young team with one void of talent.
If any team can overcome the loss of 1,130 points (67.3 percent of the team total for the season), it is the Bison.
“In Benton Central history, we’ve always been a good team,” Payne said. “Just because we lost three really good seniors doesn’t mean it is going to go downhill. We have a young team, but we have a lot of talent.”