The Holden girls basketball team opens regular season play with a home game against Adrian on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
This year’s Lady Eagles team will look for its quickness as an attribute as the squad replaces key starters lost to graduation with both experienced players and team members looking to contribute.
“We will have to use our speed this year,” says fifth-year head coach Ben Kiger. “We still have some height, but we lost three players all around 5’-8” which gave us a lot more flexibility on offense and defense last year. We want to pressure some teams if we can stay out of foul trouble and get points in transition. Even though we lost three really good seniors, I expect us to be competitive in conference, and to have a good season.
“I am really excited for some returners stepping into new and expanded roles, and seeing how we can gel together as a team. Every season has an opportunity to get better.”
Those three players lost to graduation include Camille Davidson, Alli Iles, and Marah Klover. That trio was a big part of last year’s team which produced an overall record of 19-7, a conference mark of 8-2, and a district runner-up finish on the season.
Returning players this year will look to last year’s successes as fuel for this season.
“We got second in districts last year,” notes coach Kiger. “We lost to the team that finished second in the state, and that was the state champion the previous year. We played in two tournament championships which were our only two losses the last two months of the season, and both of those teams were in the final four.”
Lone Lady Eagle senior team member Rachel Wamsley returns as a four-year team member with extensive varsity experience.
Other returning starters and regular players dot this year’s roster which includes a lineup of 12 team members.
“Returning starters are Adalyn Campbell, Jaci Gower, Lilee Keller, and Rachel Wamsley,” says coach Kiger. “All of these girls started last year and were a huge reason why we had success. Jaci and Lilee are juniors, and Adalyn is a sophomore.”
The team’s roster also includes juniors Annie Zillner, Jenna McHenry, and Layne Jennings.
Sophomores on the team include Jazzy Brown, Lilly Carver, and Brooke Gimmarro.
Incoming freshmen include Kaylynn Pedrow and Kyleigh Stowell.
Assistant coach Cindy Keller returns to join coach Kiger this season as the coaches look to fill the X’s and O’s on the court this season. The depth chart in preseason practices has started to pan out as the season approaches.
“Adalyn Campbell will be our point guard,” reports coach Kiger. “I think our offense will go as she goes. She will be called onto get us into an offense, and to distribute the ball. Her shot is looking good in practice, and I think she can score in bunches.
“Jaci Gower will be leading us in the middle of our offense,” noted coach Kiger. “She had a good sophomore year, so I am looking for to take another step in her progression as a dominant post player in our conference. One thing I really like with her in the middle is she passes well out of it, and is really good at looking for open teammates.
“Lilee Keller is the key to our zone defense,” emphasizes coach Kiger of Keller who is coming off of a softball season in which she received all-state recognition, and last year dominated on backside rebounding on the basketball court. “She makes everyone else’s job easier because she rarely gets out of position. She is capable of scoring in bunches. She has a great looking shot and will continue to get even better. I think she will provide some matchup problems with other teams.”
Wamsley gains attention from the head coach this season after providing an outside shooting threat last year.
“Rachel Wamsley is someone that can get hot from the three-point line,” says coach Kiger. “She can stretch out a zone, and I am really excited for her senior year. She has improved every year, and we want to give her a year to remember.”
Players looking to expand their time on the court, or to make their first appearance in a varsity game fill out the remainder of the depth chart.
“Lilly Carver has gotten a lot stronger than she was last year, and she is really working hard,” says coach Kiger of the sophomore who picked up varsity minutes last season. “I love watching some of the girls I already mentioned work with her. She takes all of it, and works on it. I think she will give us some more height, and can help with rebounding.”
With 12 players looking for playing time, and three spots vacated by graduated players, coach Kiger is evaluating the entire roster for likely contributors.
“Anni Zillner is back this year,” says coach Kiger. “She is working hard and picking things up quickly. I think that she can help us as the year progresses. We also have Layne Jennings. She played with us this summer, and if she can get healthy and caught up to speed, she can provide us some much needed depth.
“Kyleigh Stowell and Kaylynn Pedrow are our freshmen newcomers,” notes coach Kiger. “Jenna McHenry and Brooke Gimmarro are returning this year. We need these four to be able to contribute to our success this year, as well.”
The season and home opener for the Holden girls basketball team against Adrian on Tuesday, Nov. 21 kicks off with a JV game at 5:30 p.m. The varsity contest follows with an approximate start time of 7.