Lady Bobcats Still Smilin', but Ready to Move on
The Daily Jeff
The smiles are still there as memories of last season's ultra-successful season linger, but for the Cambridge High girls' basketball team, it's time to refocus and move on.
The Lady Bobcats took their supporters on a fantastic ride all the way to the OHSAA Division II "Final Four" last year, compiling a school-record 22-5 record along the way, but the core of that team has since departed and although the cupboard isn't completely bare, there'll be a lot of new, young faces in the lineup this winter.
Given one last chance to reflect on the 2010-11 success, veteran CHS coach Dan Linscott still beamed with pride.
"That group had the most wins in the history of the school and won the ECOL back-to-back," he related, "and obviously at tournament time we got the sectional for the third year in a row; got by our nemesis (West Holmes) at the district and then the regional and getting to the Final Four was a dream come true.
"It was a tremendous accomplishment and a total team effort," he added.
Linscott, who sports a 109-51 record as head coach of the Lady 'Cats, also hopes it serves as motivation for this year's team.
"We want to get back, obviously, but we understand it takes a lot of work, a lot of good fortune and our kids understand it's a marathon, not a sprint," he stated. "The girls who were a part of that have the opportunity to try to get back (to state)."
With only one senior, two juniors and a total of three letterwinners returning, the Lady Bobcats may take some time to find the right mix.
"We know there will be some growing pains early, but we hope to gain some momentum in the second half of the season once they get the experience," Linscott offered. "We've got a nice core of sophomores and it will be interesting to see how they develop."
CHS may play more of an outside game this year based on its personnel and lack of overall size compared to last year's group.
"Rebounding is a concern with our size and we'll have to make a concentrated effort to send all five to the boards offensively," he stated. "We'll be more of a perimeter shooting team, but still want to get it inside, too.
"Defensively, I look for us to extend pressure a little more than last year because I don't think we can just play half-court game," the coach added.
The biggest factor is taking care of the basketball, according to Linscott, who was named Ohio Division II Co-Coach of the Year as well as being honored by both the Eastern District and ECOL.
"I think the ability to handle full-court pressure because of our inexperience is a big key," he acknowledged. "Will we be able to stay composed and not get rattled? Even last year's group didn't handle it at all times, but they did when it counted."
Three players who were a part of last year's success return to anchor this year's squad. Junior forward Mallory Taylor (5-10); sophomore guard Hallie Stocker (5-8) and sophomore forward Kiersten Taylor (5-10) all earned varsity letters a year ago and will provide leadership on the floor this time around.
Stocker worked her way into the starting lineup as a freshman and contributed significantly with an 8.7 per game scoring average. She also averaged 2.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals per contest and for her efforts was named second team all-ECOL and special mention all-Eastern District.
Kiersten Taylor scored 3.0 points and grabbed 2.8 boards per outing while Mallory Taylor's totals includes 2.0 points and 1.6 rebounds. Both are expected to increase those numbers dramatically with more extensive playing time this winter.
"We'll look to those three for leadership as well as experience and to provide the bulk of our scoring," said Linscott.
The other two likely starters are junior guard Mariah Rossiter (5-4) and sophomore guard Abbey Seckman (5-2).
The remainder of the varsity squad features senior guard Kayla Billos (5-2) and four additional sophomores --Emilie Anderson (5-5 guard); Lexy Baker (5-5 guard); Kennedy Seckman (5-8 forward) and Paxton Winston (5-2 guard).
The JV squad features sophomores Kaitlynn Blair (5-10) and Jocelyn Hostutler (5-8) --and four freshmen --Tamika Beaty (5-4), Sarah Eddy (5-8), Ellie Koscot (5-2) and Stephanie Massey (5-8).
Serving as Linscott's varsity assistant/junior varsity coach is Kayla Matesick.
The Lady 'Cats lost five valuable contributors from last year's team which posted a second straight unbeaten ECOL season (12-0) while winning D-II Sectional, District and Regional crowns en route to the state tournament --Molly Ritz, Abby Wetherell, Candice Bumgardner, Brandy Simpson and Kayla Francis.
Ritz earned all-Ohio D-II second team laurels; was first team and Player of the Year, first team all-Eastern District, second team all-OVAC Class 4A and a paricipant in both the District 12 and OVAC All-Star Games; Wetherell was all-Ohio honorable mention, first team all-District 12 and ECOL, second team all-Eastern District, honorable mention all-OVAC and played in the B.A.C.F. All-Star Game; Bumgardner was named second team all-ECOL and all-District 12, special mention all-Eastern District and honorable mention all-OVAC; and Simpson gained second team all-District 12, special mention all-Eastern District and honorable mention all-ECOL.
Linscott sees this year's schedule as a challenging one.
"Our schedule will be as tough, if not tougher in the regular season with the new setup in the league, but that will be good for us," he commented. "Zanesville and New Philly are D-I, and playing that level of competition will help us. It's going to be a rigorous league, but we look forward to the challenge of defending our title.
"In our division (Scarlet), Dover has a huge size advantage over everybody -- maybe a little taller than we were last year -- so they might be the favorite, but Zanesville is as athletic as Dover is tall. Marietta and us both have a solid scorer back, so it will be interesting."
New to the CHS slate are games with Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans, Garaway and Philo and a second encounter against Marietta while gone are the second match-ups with Meadowbrook, Coshocton, Claymont and River View.
The Lady 'Cats opened the season last Friday against John Glenn and will return to action Wednesday at Dover.