Aliyia Kind and Kaylee Simms are senior veterans. Junior Rylie Pittard became accustomed to running the offense last year as well.
With those three, first-year coach Andy Baker has installed a new, quicker-paced offense.
“With Aliyia’s athleticism, she is tough to guard. Kaylee is tough. Rylie has a work ethic like crazy,” Baker said.
Sharpshooting Kara Homeier spent the offseason working on a quicker release to her shot after leading the team with 26 made 3-pointers last season and hopes the new offense provides more open looks from deep.
Rebounding was an area where the Bronchos struggled last season, and Jeff graduated leading rebounder Allie Aikerson-Russell.
However, an athletic and physical presence has Baker with no concerns about his post play.
“Julia Randolph worked really hard in the offseason,” said senior Carlie Hinkel, who averaged 3.8 rebounds and 6.5 points last season while earning Team MVP honors. “Martina McQuay is really good in there and I can get in there and help even though I’m smaller.”
Baker hopes those two, along with the return of senior Stephanie Harris and the addition of junior Haley Carter to the varsity opens up Hinkel’s midrange jumper. Hinkel led the team, shooting 46 percent last season.
The Bronchos have eight seniors and three juniors, most with varsity experience.
Junior shooting guard Ariel Callis comes up from the JV, as does Randolph. Guard Jordan Richards played in just nine varsity contests last season.
Last year’s struggles are behind the Bronchos, they believe, and this early season tournament provides the opportunity to prove that.
“The J&C is a good way for us to start,” Simms said. “There’s good competition, but I think we compete well with all of them. We have a chance to get some wins and get this season started right.”
Last season, the Bronchos relied heavily on leading scorer Kind, the only player on the team to average double-digit scoring. This season, they’ll hope for a more balanced attack.
“I don’t want this year for this team to depend on me to score,” Kind said. “I want the whole team to score. I want everyone to have points on the board, not just one person or two or three.”
The Bronchos hopes that translates to more victories as well. Baker said — when he noticed the amount of talent on the roster — looking at last year’s record “shocked me.”
A new coach offers a new start for Jeff’s veteran squad.
“We obviously didn’t have that great of a record but we’re coming in here, we have a new coach and I think we are all pretty excited about it,” Homeier said.