UNION TOWNSHIP —The Lady Trojans of Glen Este High School are ready for a big splash in girls basketball in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference after a 19-6 record and second-place finish a year ago.
Seniors Kelly Simon and Payton Funk and sophomores Jasmine Hale and Kaylin Burdick should lead Glen Este, but coach Jeff Click believes he can go 10 deep on the roster. The Lady Trojans have six seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.
Hale and Simon both made first team ECC, and Funk made second team. Simon and Funk are four-year players for the Lady Trojans. Hale led the league in scoring as a freshman at 14.7 points per game.
“There’s a lot to like about this team,” Click said. “We have experienced players returning who work hard on their game and are great teammates. I think we have talented offensive players and we should be able to score the ball.”
Click is a little concerned about his team’s size and emphasizes rebounding and defense will dictate his team’s success.
Glen Este begins with Seton on Nov. 21, then travels to St. Ursula Nov. 24. Their ECC opener is a home game with Withrow Nov. 28.
“I think it should be a good year in the ECC,” Click said. “I think Walnut Hills, Turpin, Milford and Anderson all have a lot of talent. We believe we should be in the running for the conference title.”
At New Richmond, the Lady Lions have a new coach in Tom Wessner after Brad Hatfield stepped down to spend time with his family. Wessner inherits a team that finished 15-10 (7-3 SBAAC-American) and has had five straight winning seasons.
The Lady Lions were second in the league to Western Brown, but reeled off postseason wins against Clermont Northeastern and Wyoming before falling to Hughes last March.
Senior Maren Hance is back after averaging nearly 14 points and nine rebounds per game as a junior. She was first team all-league along with Ashley Gray. Senior Jade Kunz and junior Anna Hamilton made second team. All five starters return and Hance is closing in on 1,000 career points.
“We have lots of experience and team quickness,” Wessner said.
New Richmond starts on the road at Reading Nov. 23, before their home opener Nov. 30 with Batavia.
Amelia is hoping to move up the ladder in the Southern Buckeye Conference-American Division after a rough season a year ago. The Lady Barons were 6-16 (1-9 SBAAC-American).
Coach Tara Kaiser returns four starters in seniors Mackenzie Hultz and Kendall Kaiser plus junior Lindsay Buten and sophomore Shelby Hatcher. Junior Kasey Broughton will also be relied upon.
“We had a great summer season and the kids are focused on making a strong finish in the SBAAC,” Kaiser said.
Rounding out the roster are senior Sammy Lee, juniors Abby Alsip, Bryanna Deaton, Whitley Howe and Kylie Smith and sophomore Brooke Koehnke.
Amelia starts right away in the league at Norwood Nov. 30 before hosting New Richmond Dec. 3.
Batavia will be without Samantha McElfresh, who led the Bulldogs in scoring with close to 16 points per game, eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau for her career and was named the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference American division player of the year.
Head coach Jason McElfresh will be looking to make up for that production. Kaitlin Ricke could be his go-to player.
Last season, Williamsburg started freshmen and sophomores in its games.
On the heels of an 0-19 season, starting inexperienced players might be considered crazy by some. For others, it’s part of the rebuilding process.
The move worked as the Wildcats finished 11-10 and .500 inside the conference. Emily Brown and Peyton Fisher, a pair of freshmen, were named to all-SBAAC teams.
They should only get better with time.
“It’s fun to see freshmen step up and help out,” then-sophomore Hope Schaljo said in a previous Enquirer story. “I think we are going to go far with this Williamsburg program. By my senior year, we should be doing some great things.”
The Wildcats are coached by Haley Bogan.
McNicholas will have to replace its best player from last season.
The Rockets return four starters who can help fill the void left by Payton Ramey’s graduation. They could also get Brynna Maxey back and fully healthy.
Maxey was dealing with a shoulder injury and coach Gregg Flammer didn’t know she was playing this year until she showed up at the first practice.
Since then, she’s been a surprise contributor. Other players who will contribute to the cause are Maria Ciampone, Hannah Brune, Jaclyn Geygan and Katey Byrne.
Ciampone, Geygan and Byrne were all-GCL Co-ed performers last year.
“We have six players who have played a lot of varsity minutes,” Flammer said. “After that, it’s kind of up-in-the-air. If they develop like I’m hoping they will, we’ll be in good shape. Winning the league is our No. 1 goal, as always. After that, making it past the district final would be nice, too.”
The defending champs of the Ohio Valley Athletic League are the Miami Valley Christian Academy Lady Lions.
MVCA was 15-5 a year ago and has had four consecutive winning seasons under coach Julie Vilardo.
Four starters are back from last year in senior Sarah Moreland, junior Michelle Lee and sophomores Dawsyn Vilardo and Maliyah Brooks. Devin Lee was a big loss to graduation, but her sister Michelle is a three-year starter. Also finishing her career will be senior Nicole Wellington. Wellington tore her ACL the last game of her freshman year and again at the first practice of her sophomore year.
“We have more girls in the program than we’ve ever had,” Julie Vilardo said. “Our returning starters are strong and we have two seniors that are playing for us for the first time.:
MVCA opens at home Nov. 21 with Reading, then hosts Immaculate Conception Dec. 4 and Woodward Dec. 5.
Players to watch
Jasmine Hale, Glen Este – Led the ECC in scoring as a freshman and was first team all-league.
Maren Hance, New Richmond – Led the Lady Lions into the tournament and was first team SBAAC-American.
Emily Brown and Peyton Fisher, Williamsburg – were named to all-SBAAC teams as freshmen.