WEST LAFAYETTE -- Entering his 10th season leading the Ridgewood High Lady Generals' basketball program, head coach Doug Patterson will enjoy a new asset this hardwood season -- size.
The Lady Generals will boost a trio of 6-0 post players this season in senior Kelsey Miller (6-1), junior Laura Frazee (6-0) and sophomore Amanda Lowery (6-0). Add to that impressive group junior Emily McCoy (5-11) and RHS will enjoy a size advantage over most opponents.
"We will definitely be a different team this year," Patterson said. "In the past, we have played a lot of motion with our guards and pressed a lot on defense. This year, our strength will be our size. Anyone who is going to beat us will have to do it from the outside as most night we should have the edge in the post area."
"I like this team a lot," Patterson added. "We've never had size like this and I'm anxious to see what we can accomplish. We've been working hard on post moves and being able to take advantage of our size advantage. I'm confident the girls will impress some people with their ability."
Patterson is hoping the Lady Generals improve on last year's 15-8 record, which included Ridgewood's first sectional win since 1985. In the Inter-Valley Conference race, the Lady Generals took fourth place last season.
"I feel that sectional win last year gave the girls some confidence," Patterson said. "They really want to try and advance a little further in the tournament this year."
Patterson welcomes back five letterwinners led by Miller, who was RHS's second-leading scorer last season at around 10 points per game along with 10 rebounds per outing.
"Kelsey worked so hard in the offseason," Patterson said. "I've never had a player who has put in the time and dedication she has. She rally wants to be a good basketball player and has put in the time it takes."
Frazee is another veteran who has put in the work alongside Miller in the offseason.
"Kelsey and Laura are good friends and have put a lot of work together," Patterson said. "I think Kelsey's work ethic has rubbed off on Laura and that's a good thing for us."
A year ago, Frazee averaged around eight points along with about eight rebounds per outing.
Rounding out the returning letterwinners for the Lady Generals are Lowery, McCoy and guard Erica Olinger (5-9/junior)
A huge loss to graduation for Ridgewood was Kayla Tedrick, who tallied 1,149 points during her career which included averaging 20 points a game last season.
"Kayla was a key part of our success the last few years," Patterson said. "She will be missed for sure this season, and we will need some people to step up and add some scoring for us."
Other performers gone from last year according to Patterson are Alayna Wright, Allie Lusk and Roxanne Thursby.
Guard play will be an area Patterson feels his Lady Generals will need to improve on as the season goes along. Olinger along with Baylee Haynes (5-4/sophomore) and Brittany Guilliams (5-7/junior) are leading the way at that position entering the season.
"A concern is we need to develop our guard play because up-tempo teams could give us trouble early on, teams like Hiland," Patterson said. "Right now, we are solid with Erica and Baylee, but we need to develop our depth some as we go along."
A trio of freshmen -- Kayla Sharier (5-2), Morgan McDorman (5-3) and Kaitlyn Finton (6-1) -- will split time between varsity and junior varsity, and could work their into some serious playing time with the varsity as the season goes along.
"We have some freshman who could help us out on varsity," Patterson said. "Hopefully, they can make the adjustment to the varsity level and contribute some valuable minutes for us."
Rounding out the Ridgewood junior varsity roster are Tara Milligan (5-8/freshman), Tea Boyer (5-5/sophomore), Kyra Gephart (5-3/sophomore), Sam Wilson (5-8, freshman), Kristin Milligan (5-8/freshman) and Lindsay Mullett (5-3/freshman).
In sizing up the race in the IVC, Patterson gives the nod to perennial power Hiland.
"Hiland has got to be the favorite going in," Patterson said. "Strasburg will be strong and Garaway will be up there also. I'm confident we will be up there fighting among the top group."
Patterson's coaching staff includes junior varsity coach Darrell Ball and varsity assistant Kirby Shivers.