WEST LAFAYETTE --In recent years, the Ridgewood High Lady Generals have set the expectation board fairly high in girls basketball and last season was no exception to that lofty standard.
The Lady Generals advanced to the district semi-finals for the third time in the last four season en route to compiling an impressive season mark of 21-4, including a second place finish in the Inter-Valley Conference with a record of 13-3.
But for RHS head coach Doug Patterson, who enters his 13 season guiding the Lady Generals program isn't satisfied with that past success and wants to accomplish more this time around.
"We have a lot of success lately but never got past the district semis," Patterson explained. "We have set that as a goal to take that next step down the tournament trail this year...we want more."
Job number one in reaching that goal will be to replace a pair of valuable players from last season lost to graduation.
Amanda Lowery earned All-Ohio honors last year was a 1,000 point scorer and averaged 18.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the Lady Generals , while hard working Baylee Haynes (6.0 ppg) provided RHS with many of the little things that are part of a successful team.
"We lost two good leaders in Amanda and Baylee," Patterson offered. "Amanda was a consistent scoring force for us and was a 1,000 point scorer in her career...those type of players don't come around very often. She was a key part of our success the last few season for sure and we will miss her."
"Baylee did a lot of things that might not always show up in the box score after the game," Patterson added. "She really excelled in helping us get into the flow of a game."
Despite those losses, the talent cupboard for Patterson and his Lady Generals is far from bare.
Ridgewood will welcome back five lettermen led by second leading scorer junior Audrey Tingle (5-6, G), who tallied 15.0 ppg with around 5.0 assists and 5.0 steals per outing.
"Audrey is just an all-around talented player," Patterson said. "She can do a lot of things out on the court and has a really good basketball IQ and understands the game."
Patterson however is most impressed with his junior standout's tremendous work ethic.
"Audrey hasn't put down a ball since last season," Patterson explained. "She played a lot of AAU basketball and has put in a lot of time to improve her game. She's just one of those kids that is the last to leave the gym every day. Just a great kid and a real pleasure to coach a player like her."
Tingle will be moving out to a win position this year from her point guard role last year, taking over the point for the Lady Generals will be senior letterman Morgan McDorman (5-4, G) who tallied around 7.0 ppg last year.
"Morgan is moving over to point this year so we can mover Audrey around more," Patterson commented. "Morgan handles the ball well and is also a real tough player with a real knack for rebounding for her size. She just always seems to be in the right position to rebound the basketball. I'm confident she will make a smooth transition to the point for us."
Also back to hold down a wing position for RHS will be junior Autumn Brown (5-11, W) who dumped in about 4.0 ppg last season.
"Autumn didn't start last year and had some back issues," Patterson said. "But she seems to be much better right now and has a real nice outside shot. She's another player that always seems to be in the right position out on the floor. "
A couple of returning post players complete the veteran performers back for Patterson in seniors Eliza Haynes (5-0, P) and Kaitlyn Finton (6-1, P) who will do the majority of their work inside the paint for RHS.
Finton just missed double figures last year at 9.0 ppg, while Haynes checked in at round 6.0 for the Lady Generals.
"Kaitlyn will be one of our main scoring threats and should be our leading rebounder," Patterson said. "She gives us some size and we need her to be a consistent source for points."
Eliza is a physical player for us and enjoy contact," Patterson continued. "She will get most of her points in the paint but does have the ability to step out and hit a shot."
Among other options for playing time Patterson feels who will contribute on the varsity level are sophomores Erinn Buchanan (5-9, W), Riley Young (5-3, G) and freshman Sydney Zinkon (5-5, P).
"Erinn is really battling for that fifth starting spot," Patterson added. "She is a real nice player who rebounds well and has a nice shooting touch. Erinn will definitely give us some solid minutes on the floor."
Rylee and Sydney will split time on JV probably but both will see varsity minutes," Patterson said. "Rylee works hard and is looking good, wile Sydney will give us quality minutes and has speed and handles the ball well."
Other players who will spend the majority of time at the JV level, but Patterson feels good give him some minutes on the varsity include sophomore Celeste Vanfossen (5-4, G), along with freshman Abbey Kellish (5-6, G), and Alexis Prater (5-8, P).
"I could see Abbey, Alexis and Celeste all seeing time up with the varsity," Patterson offered. "How much just depends on what we need and how they progress as the season goes along."
Players slated for duty at the junior varsity level are freshmen Kelsie Elmer (5-5, G), Sadie Wilson (5-6, P), Keirstan Hall (5-6, P), Clarissa Ridenour (5-6, G) and sophomore Madison Harrison (5-4, P).
Patterson returns a veteran coaching staff at the varsity level that he feels very comfortable with in junior varsity coach Darrell Ball and volunteer assistant Kirby Shivers.
"I really appreciate my coaching staff, we have been together a long time and we work very well together," Patterson added. "It's a real joy to work with them every day."
At the junior high level Patterson will have Autumn Nelson leading the seventh grade team, while Randy Simmons will coach the eight grade squad.
Defending champion Hiland will once again be the team to beat in the IVC but Patterson feels it will be a real deep field this season.
"I think the IVC will be a strong as its been in my 13 years of coaching," Patterson said. "You start with Hiland and Garaway and I would put us in that group. But really don't see any weak spots on that schedule. We will have to be ready every night we take the court."