There’s been plenty of new for the Regina girls’ basketball team this season: a new coach with four new starters on a team that features seven freshmen.
All of that has added up to the same old results for the Regals.
A year after finishing 18-6, Regina hasn’t skipped a beat this season under first-year head coach Matt Bolger and with a nearly entirely new roster.
Regina has won six straight games to open the season and sits atop the River Valley Conference South Division standings with a 5-0 mark.
“I think a lot of people thought we were going to be down this year,” junior Kennedy Brown said. “We’re showing people that we’re still good.”
Brown joins junior Cammy Verducci, sophomore Sarah Lehman and senior Hannah Stein in the starting lineup for Regina.
Those four are also the only four players on the Regal roster who aren’t freshmen.
“We only have four girls that aren’t freshmen, and I’ve never had a team like this,” Bolger said. “I’m still figuring out how to best utilize everyone.”
The seven freshmen on the Regina roster haven’t just filled holes this season — they have excelled in their roles.
Guard Lauren Gaarde has stepped into the starting lineup while fellow freshman guard Mary Crompton was the Regals’ top scorer entering this weekend at better than 16 points per game.
The 5-foot-7 Crompton was shooting better than 52 percent from beyond the 3-point line heading into play this weekend.
Gaarde and freshman Katharine Dunn both average more than five points per game.
“They have played a lot of basketball, and they have played a lot of basketball together,” Bolger said. “Their basketball IQ is very high, they all can handle the ball, and they’ve been taught good fundamentals so it’s made my job a lot easier.”
Mixing the freshmen with the four returners has been a key for Bolger in his first year.
The lone senior on the team, Stein returned with the most experience for the Regals and is off to a strong start averaging nearly eight points and better than four rebounds per game.
Brown is averaging eight points per game and leads the team in rebounding while Verducci had a game-high 21 points and Lehman had a season-high 15 in a win over Northeast on Saturday.
“We have one senior, and Hannah is doing a great job. It’s a different dynamic that we are still figuring out but we are making headway,” Bolger said. “Having the freshmen that are still learning how things go that has been beneficial. It’s all coming together right now.”
STILL PERFECT: Two other area teams, Solon (6-0) and West High (6-0), remain unbeaten on the season.
Solon improved to 6-0 with a win over Anamosa on Friday and will host Central Clinton on Tuesday and travel to West Delaware in its final two games before the holiday break.
West High will close out the December portion of its schedule on the road against Waterloo East on Tuesday before hosting Cedar Rapids Washington on Friday.
• A LOOK AHEAD: City High (5-1) will face its third ranked team in its first seven games Tuesday when the ninth-ranked Little Hawks host No. 6 Linn-Mar (5-0) in a Mississippi Valley Conference showdown.
Mid-Prairie (3-2) will try to climb the River Valley Conference standings when it hosts Class 2A No. 9 Cascade (5-0) on Friday.
One of the toughest tests of the season for Highland (5-1) comes Friday when the Huskies face Class 3A No. 2 Mediapolis in an early season SEISC showdown.
RANKINGS UPDATE: A trio of teams made their first appearance in the rankings this week as Regina, Solon and West Branch all broke into the top 15.
Solon is No. 13 in the latest Class 3A poll released by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union on Thursday while West Branch was No. 10 in 2A and Regina was No. 12 in 2A.
In Class 5A West High (6-0) moved up a spot from fifth to fourth while City High (5-1) moved back into the poll at No. 9 after falling out last week.
Top-ranked teams are West Des Moines’ Dowling in 5A, Harlan in 4A, Pocahontas Area in 3A, Western Christian in 2A and Burlington Notre Dame in 1A.
PERFORMANCES OF THE WEEK: West High senior Mikaela Morgan had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight steals in a 60-33 win over Waterloo West.
Highland senior Chelsey Lampe had 17 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and seven steals in a 62-26 win over Iowa Mennonite.
West Liberty junior Hailey Daufeldt had 26 points and 11 rebounds in a 62-44 win over Wilton.
Clear Creek Amana senior Hanna Stokes had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a 60-40 win over Vinton-Shellsburg.
Reach Ryan Murken at 339-7369 or email@example.com.