First-year coach Brandon Brown knows it’s going to take more than one individual to offset the loss of departed senior Karlee Carey, who led the Wapello girls basketball team in scoring last year with 10.4 points per game.
Fortunately for Brown and the Arrows, they have plenty of candidates with the potential to help fill that void, and that starts with sophomore Eryka Dickey. She was the team’s second-leading scorer as a freshman last season at 9.8 points per game.
“She’s going to play the four for us because she can rebound, she’s athletic and she can play inside,” Brown said. “She’s a guard, but she’s a little taller and has the ability to play inside if she has to. She’s very good on the block.”
Wapello will also look to Tiffany Parsons, who averaged 7.3 points per game last season. Much like Dickey, Parsons is a bigger guard also capable of playing in the post. Those two will be flanked by seniors Addisyn Lolling and Kirsten Hank in addition to a slew of newcomers at guard in what Brown expects to be a four-guard, motion heavy offense much like last season.
But he still wants to play inside-out.
“I think we have to be able to work the ball inside,” Brown said. “You get the ball inside even if you’re not scoring, you’re bringing the defense in to give your shooters opportunities.
“That’s going to be our struggle is learning how to do that because it was a lot easier when we had Karlee.”
Wildcats searching for offense: There aren’t many questions for head coach Tyler Hotz and his Columbus Community girls basketball team on the defensive side of the ball. At least not yet, as Hotz has been impressed with his team’s rebounding and defense through the first week of practice.
The Wildcats will need to continue making strides in that area because their offense may be a work in progress after losing Shania Boyd and Bailey Stroud, who averaged 19.1 and 16.6 points per game, respectively.
The Wildcats hope to work through the paint to help ease those losses and improve on their 34 percent shooting on their way to an 11-11 record last season.
“We’re really going to focus on points in the paint,” Hotz said. “As we become successful at that, we move up and out to see if we can’t identify some of our three-point shooters and get them open looks.”
That will likely start with senior forward Maki Mendenhall, who averaged 5.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in her junior season, and senior guard Courtney Zaehringer, who averaged 3.3 points per game last season.
But most of all, Hotz's team, which ranked second in the SEISC North in scoring at 52.8 points per game, will have to play smarter and harder than its opponents this season.
“I think playing under control and establishing what kind of team we want to be will be important,” Hotz said. “The other side is just outworking teams. We are a hard-working team, and you can win a lot of games by just outworking teams.”
Falcons eye winning season: It’s been seven years since Louisa-Muscatine’s last winning season, but coach Mark Wehrle believes his girls basketball team has a chance to do that for the first time since 2010.
“These girls, going back to junior high and elementary, have had winning seasons," Wehrle said. "They know how to win, they just have to put it together at the high school level.”
The Falcons were just 7-15 last season and lost two seniors, but Lani Hillard, who averaged 7.1 points per game, was the only one who played a significant role last season. They return Mariah Pugh for her junior season after she led the way for the Falcons last season by averaging 9.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
Louisa-Muscatine also returns Hailey Sanders, Cat Osborne and Alexa Wehrle, who all played significant roles last season. Although seven of the Falcons' top 15 players this year are freshmen, coach Wehrle thinks his team has the ability to improve on its 33.4 percent shooting percentage from last season.
“We just have girls that know where to be and where they’re supposed to go,” Wehrle said. “We want to be in the thick of the conference race, get several players on the all-conference team and advance in our regional.”