HOLMES TOWNSHIP – If success is measured by confidence, the Wynford Royals should be the most confident team in Crawford County.
A year ago, the Royals compiled a 15-9 record and saw four players earn all-Northern 10 honors. Three of them return in 2015-16.
But they lose a major piece of their team that upset state-ranked Crestview in last season’s sectional finals. All-N10 first teamer Ellie Richmond, who averaged 15 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists for the district-qualifying Royals graduated.
Wynford will be looking at all-N10 second teamer Alyssa Harrer to pick up what Richmond left. The 6-foot-1 senior forward did it all a season ago. Harrer scored 10 points, snatched nine rebounds and blocked five shots a game. She dished out two assists and swiped two steals a night while tallying an N10 high 107 blocks.
“This team is full of size,” Wynford coach Amy Taylor-Sheldon said. “We have a lot of experienced players at different positions and a lot of player versatility which will allow for some different lineups.”
The Royals have nine players 5-foot-7 and taller. Harrer and Tara Zinser are the Royals version of the twin towers, standing 6-1. Sarah Odgen is 5-10 and freshman Olivia Groves tops out at 5-11.
With all of that size, the Royals will look to control the paint and force teams to take long-distance shots. Controlling the boards will be a priority.
“We have the size to limit shot opportunities on defense but we also lack overall team speed,” Taylor-Sheldon said.
Ogden returns sporting an all-N10 second team honor. Her eight point, nine rebound average earned the nod. Gretchen Harris was named to the all-N10 honorable mention team during her sophomore campaign. She scored four points and dished out four assists a night.
Senior Jade Stuckman and junior Maci Cooper round out the Royals contributors. Stuckman averaged three points and three assists last season. Cooper scored four points and grabbed four rebounds a night.
Taylor-Sheldon is looking to fix the shooting woes the Royals experienced last season.
“We really need to find consistent range from the 3,” Taylor-Sheldon said. “We shot just 28 percent last year so it is something we can really improve on.”
The Royals lose three of their top four 3-point shooters. Richmond drilled 32 treys while Mallory Moore made 17 and Sydney Alspach connected on eight. Harrer is the most viable returning option from deep. She dropped 16 deep balls and Stuckman made seven. No other Royal made a varsity 3-pointer.
The Royals have set their goals high for the 2015-16 season.
“We want to compete for an N10 championship,” Taylor Sheldon said. “This is a very competitive league with a lot of experienced players returning. Very few of the best players graduated so there will be very similar rosters from the top teams of last year. There are also a lot of veteran coaches.”
The Royals are not only shooting for a conference title. After their upset win over Crestview in the sectional final last season, according to Taylor-Sheldon, the Royals have their sights set on a district title.