NEW RICHMOND – A winning record might not warrant a parade on Front Street for the New Richmond High School girls basketball team, but seventh-year head coach Brad Hatfield is pleased as the Lady Lions head to the tournament.
Hatfield’s squad lost their only senior early in the year to an ACL, leaving him a junior and sophomore-heavy lineup to grind through the year. After a 4-3 December, New Richmond went on a run in late January to earn a decent path in the Division II sectional.
“We got a very good draw,” Hatfield said. “We’re the No. 3 seed in the Withrow sectional, which is better than I ever would’ve imagined going into the season.”
The Lady Lions lost four starters to graduation in Bailey Workman, Hannah Hall, Alexis Meyer and Josie Buckingham. The 6-foot-5 Buckingham averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks per game and moved on to play college basketball at Minnesota.
“We don’t throw to the post 30 times a night anymore,” Hatfield said chuckling. “Those days are over.”
For the first time in four years, the lanky Hatfield is again taller than all of his players. Junior 5-foot-10 forward Jade Kunz is as high as New Richmond goes.
“We play a lot of zone and she stepped up in the middle of the zone,” Hatfield said. “She does a real nice job of taking up space and taking away passing and driving lanes. She doesn’t block the shots that Josie blocked, but she’s filled in nicely.”
Due to the personnel changes, New Richmond now relies on more pressure on the perimeter with their athleticism. With the ball, Maren Hance, a 5-foot-9 guard, is a go-to player for Hatfield.
“Most of the offense goes through her,” he said. “A lot of nights she’ll lead us in scoring and assists.”
If everything stays status quo, New Richmond will return six seniors and five juniors next season who clawed and scratched their way to a winning varsity season. They hope to continue playing as they open up in the Division II sectional against Clermont Northeastern Feb. 21.
The Lady Lions diffused the Lady Rockets 46-31 back on Jan. 15. With a win over CNE, New Richmond would wind up against the Wyoming/Batavia winner Feb. 25.
Assuming both schools advance, a New Richmond/Wyoming game would be a rematch of a 2013 tournament game played also at Withrow. The Lady Lions advanced 50-35 that night and have experience playing Cincinnati Hills League teams.
They defeated Deer Park, lost by a point to Reading Feb. 9 and fell to a pair of upper echelon CHL teams early in the season.
“We lost to Mariemont and Madeira,” Hatfield said. “I thought we played with Madeira. It was a three-point game in the fourth quarter with a young team playing a superior opponent.”
As for Buckingham at Minnesota, Hatfield reports she played in some early non-conference games, but then broke a thumb during the Big 10 schedule. Despite the injury, she’s enjoying her time with the Lady Gophers.