Lady Bears’ have experience on their side

| November 28, 2012

WARSAW – Often, it’s the unsung heroes who are missed most when they are no longer around.

And while River View High School girls’ basketball coach Kevin Smith understands that graduation is always going to be a part of the equation, he cannot help but lament his most recent loss.

Not the tallest, fastest or most gifted, what Peyton Stipes did for the Lady Bears during last year’s 15-8 campaign is immeasurable.

“A lot of people don’t realize how valuable Peyton was,” said Smith, now in his fourth season at the helm. “She didn’t light up the stat sheets but all the ball handling and pressure defense she did for us, we’re going to have to find two people to replace her.”

Stipes was the only player River View lost through graduation.

Indeed, yet another search for a point guard became the task at hand as River View hopes to take another positive step in both the East Central Ohio League and the OHSAA postseason tournament.

Smith actually didn’t have to look very far for a viable backcourt quarterback alternative.

Back seeking her third varsity letter is 6-foot guard/forward Andi Daugherty. An all-Ohio honorable mention player last season, in a demonstration of her versatility, Daugherty will be returning to a role she fulfilled in her first year of varsity ball.

“As a freshman, she had to handle the point and she’s having to do it again this year,” Smith said. “She’s just going to get things started for us.” 

From there, experience is on the Lady Bears’ side.

The team’s top scorer, Daugherty is just one of four starters who return, including All-ECOL performer Sam Ringwalt, a 5-9 junior; and off-guards Justine Moran at 5-9, and Sami Straits at 5-7, two of just three seniors on the squad.

The third, 6-foot guard Katie Daugherty, earned significant minutes off the bench last year.

That leaves room for emerging players to try for the other three or four spots in what Smith needs to accomplish his goal of at least an eight-player rotation.

“We feel pretty confident with the five we have returning,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of piecing the other players into spots.

“There are some other younger players who we’re working with who could step into key roles as the season progresses. We have pretty high expectations for ourselves to build on what we had last year with what we have.”

Juniors hoping to add to the mix are Lindsay Lupher, a 5-9 post, and Bailey Moore, a 5-6 guard. Also battling for playing time are Cassidy Hunter, a 5-7 guard, and Ashley Stewart, a 5-6 guard.

Sophomore Jesse Gibson, a 5-10 post, leads a solid class of sophomores. Also at 5-10 is guard-forward Kristi McFarland while post Rebecca Douglass is 5-9 and guard Heather Maxwell is 5-7.

Freshman Cassidy Whiteus, a 5-4 guard, has also drawn Smith’s attention.

“We started this summer working on developing guard play,” Smith said. “We’re playing kids there now who wouldn’t necessarily be guards on other teams but they’re working hard and trying to do everything we ask of them.”

“We should be as big or bigger than most teams we play and have to use that as one of our strengths. And now that we are practically all juniors and seniors and have that experience will hopefully help us in some games.”

In coming up shy on last year’s expectations, the Lady Bears finished second behind Zanesville Rosecrans in the ECOL Grey Division and fell to West Holmes in the sectional final.

“Rosecrans has everybody back and at tournament time, you still have to go through West Holmes. That road still looks the same but the body of work to get there is we want to win a few more games this year than last year to increase our chances even more.

“Leadership on the floor will be key and a lot is going to depend on team chemistry. Even though we only lost one player, we’ve not developed that yet and that’s valuable on all great teams.”

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Category: High School

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