Entering his second season leading the Newcomerstown High girls' basketball program, head coach Tripp Hisrich will be working with a very young squad with only three seniors on the 2012-2013 roster and just three returning lettermen.
One of those senior letterman will be a focal point for opposing teams in 5-7 Allie Hinton, who lead the Lady Trjans last year in scoring with a 17.4 points per game average along with pulling down around five rebounds per night. Hinton was a first team all-Eastern District, all-IVC and all-District 5 Divisions III performer last season.
"Allie brings a lot to the table for us," Hisrich said. "She is solid in all areas. She can shoot it from just about anywhere and can take people off the dribble as well. At the foul line, she shot around 70 percent last season. Teams will have their hands full with her this year."
Hinton also plays a key role defensively for the Orange and Black.
"Defensively, Allie is very active...she anticipates very well," Hisrich added. "We can use her in a number of defensive spots, both inside and outside which really helps us out.
"Allie is also a great leader for us," Hisrich said. "She's not real vocal, but leads more by example. The other girls see how hard she works and want to get the same results she does, so they follow her lead."
The other two returning lettermen for NHS are senior Lexi Montgomery (5-5/guard) and sophomore Amber Kennedy (5-5/guard) who will be counted on to provide valuable contributions this year.
"Last season, Lexi was our primary ball-handler and we will look for her to fill that role again this year," Hisrich said. "She will be key to help us control the tempo of the game for us. Most of what we do offensively will run through Allie, but we will count on her to lead the offense and also supply some more scoring this year.
"Amber sort of got pressed into action last year as a freshman due to our numbers," Hisrich said. "She did a fine job, and brings a lot of speed and quickness to the floor, and is a good ball-handler also who can help Lexi out in that area. She will be asked to do even more this year, and I hope she can continue to develop into a valuable player for us."
Leading the newcomers for the Lady Trojans will be a pair of freshman in Karlee Peach (5-8/post) and Annie Johns (5-7/post) who have each earned starting spots heading into the season.
"Both Karlee and Annie have earned starting spots right now," Hisrich said. "We will count on them inside the 'paint' for us, but the key there is to make sure they don't play timid with being so young. Thus far in or scrimmages they have been holding there own and doing a nice job."
Yet another option inside the 'paint' area for the Lady Trojans will be senior Molly Popadak (5-6/post), who decided to come out in her final opportunity at the prep level.
"So far, Molly has shown some ability," Hisrich said. "She along with the two freshman should give us a pretty strong inside presence."
Lost to graduation from last year's 10-11 team are Kori Connor who averaged 14.9 points along with a big 12 rebounds per night and was tabbed third team all-Eastern District, along with Kelsey McCune (5.0 ppg/6 rebounds) and Taylor Postel (5.6 ppg.).
"We lost around 18 rebounds a game with the loss of Kori and Kelsey," Hisrich said, "so we are looking for those three girls to pick up the slack there."
While not overly big, Hisrich feels his young trio of post players have the physical make-up to be effective.
"None of them is really that tall," Hisrich said. "They just have the body type where they are strong and physical and not afraid to get in there and bang around. I'm confident they will be able to make their presence felt."
Also up from last year's junior varsity team are three players Hisrich feels will be valuable parts of this year's team in junior Emily Davis (5-7/forward), sophomores Sam Watson (5-6/forward) and Paige McMullen (5-5/guard).
"I look for Emily, Sam and Paige to all go out and contribute," Hisrich said. "We will be counting on them both offensively and also on the defensive end of the floor."
In pointing to an area he would like to shore up as the season moves along, Hisrich has a definite plan.
"We just need to continue to work on our individual skills,"
See LADY TROJANS, page 7
Hisrich said, "whether it's ball handling, rebounding, whatever. We just need to continue to work hard each and every day to improve."
In looking at the race in the Inter-Valley Conference, Hisrich feels it starts with the perennial powers.
"Obviously you have to start with Hiland and Garaway right off the top," Hisrich said. "They are proven programs who will be right there once again. Ridgewood should also be strong. They lost some guard play, but will be real strong in the post area with some big girls.
"We just hope we can go out every night in the IVC and compete," the NHS coach said. "If we can do that, I'll be satisfied against that type of quality competition we face in the IVC."
Davis, Watson and McMullen will split time on the junior varsity team, which also includes freshman Jorden Moore (5-5/guard), sophomores Tiffany Yoho (5-8/forward), Tanisha Grewell (5-6/forward), Adrianna Sharier (5-8/forward) and Kaira Wolf (5-6/forward).
Assiting Hisrich this year are Steve Putnam as junior varsity coach while Matt Mottice will coach the eighth grade team and Beth McCune leads the seventh grade.
"Our overall goal for the season is to go out and play to our level every night," Hisrich said. "Just be consistent and play to our standard and I feel we will be fine."