| VIEW LADY BUCCS ROSTER |
By Rob Kiser, Piqua Daily Call
COVINGTON - The post-Sammi Whiteman era had to begin sometime.
And it is not like the Covington girls basketball team is without varsity experience.
But it may take a little time for the Buccaneers to get used to playing without the Ohio Division IV Player of the Year from a year ago, who is now a starter for Trevecca Nazarene.
Whiteman became the school’s all-time leading scorer last year and averaged 25.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.3 steals as a senior, taking care of the bulk of the ball-handling duties.
The Buccs finished 20-4 a year ago, tying the regular season record for wins in a season.
And Covington has six returning letterwinners from that team.
But gone are Whiteman, the physical presence of Lauren Christian inside and Lillian Hamilton and Leah Poling.
“I think it was just that there was comfort with Sammi (Whiteman) out there,” first-year coach Brandon Studebaker said. “Any time there was a pressure situation, Sammi could take over.”
And while Studebaker is a first-year coach, he is very familiar with the roster — especially the seniors.
“I coached the seniors in junior high both years,” Studebaker said. “And I have been with them since they were freshman (as varsity assistant). For the others, it may be a little bit of an adjustment with me going from assistant to head coach. But, we are going to do a lot of the same things we did with Jim (Meyer).”
The seniors include 5-foot-7 guard/forwards Morgan Kimmel and Josie Crowell, along with 5-5 guard Morgan Lowe.
Kimmel provides a physical presence, while the others can score from the perimeter.
“We have the two Morgans,” Studebaker said. “Morgan Lowe is a little iffy right now with her back. Josie Crowell is back from injury this season and she is going to help us. She can play inside or outside.”
Two sophomores, who showed tremendous potential as freshman, are also back.
Claudia Harrington is a 5-6 guard, while Makenzee Maschino is a 5-10 guard/forward.
“Claudia (Harrington) will take over at point guard,” Studebaker said. “She played guard for us last year, but it is a little different when you are the point guard. Makenzee (Maschino) is working her way back (from an ACL injury). We are hoping to have her back by mid-season.”
Ellie Hedges, a 5-7 guard, is the lone junior on the roster.
The remaining sophomores include 6-foot Claire Fraley; 5-7 Bree Reynolds and 5-4 Mia Rodgers.
Rounding out the roster is 5-3 freshman Meg Rogers.
“Claire (Fraley) is our only true post player,” Studebaker said. “She doesn’t have varsity experience, but we have some alumni players that will come in and work with her and help her get ready for the physical part of the game.”
Studebaker knows replacing Whiteman’s points - as well as her presence - will be a challenge.
Because of that, the Lady Buccs will play a more uptempo style this year.
“I think it will be tougher for us to score out of a half-court offense,” Studebaker said. “That’s why we are going to play more uptempo. We are going to pressure on defense and look to push the ball on offense.”
The schedule will again be a challenge, with teams like traditional state power Versailles on it.
“It is a tough schedule,” Studebaker said. “We get Versailles in the fourth game of the season. They have a new coach, but they still have a really strong team.”
The Cross County Conference will be a challenge as well.
“I think Tri-Village is still the team at the top,” Studebaker said. “They have the two 6-foot girls, which will be a real challenge when we play and the Sagester girl, who can light it up from outside. Franklin Monroe and Arcanum will be really strong and I expect Miami East to be good as well. Realistically, I think we can be in the middle of the pack.”
Studebaker can’t wait for the opening weekend, with a road game at Houston, before hosting Fairlawn.
“They are both good teams,” Studebaker said. “The Houston game is always exciting because it is the first game. The Fairlawn game will be the annual alumni game and we will have the former players coming in and playing before we play.”
And embark in the post Sammi Whiteman era.