The Wilton girls basketball team features a fearless trio of juniors who can pour in points in a flurry.
They were instrumental in the Beavers’ season-opening 68-49 win over West Liberty last Tuesday, combining for 48 of the team’s points.
Aubrey Putman and Emily Lange each scored 22, and Wilton put up more points than it had in any game last season despite Kortney Drake, its leading scorer from last season, shooting just 2-for-9 from the field.
Wilton coach Jeremy Putman was confident before the season started that his team would have success offensively after returning its top three scorers from last year’s team, which averaged 48.9 points per game and finished 13-10.
The concern was defensively, especially considering the Beavers surrendered over 70 points twice and at least 53 points eight different times last year.
“We just need to play better defense,” coach Putman said. “We can score points, but we’ve got to shut other teams down, especially when we play some of the better teams in our conference. We got to play good defense. And then rebounding is the second thing we’ve been working on. We struggled last year a little bit with rebounding. That’s a key to our season too.”
Wilton’s defense was impressive for the first quarter of the opener, holding the Comets to just two points, but then got in foul trouble and ended up giving up 46 points over the last three quarters, including 32 in the second half.
The shooting percentage, 36.6 percent on 71 attempts, also was a bit of concern.
Regardless, it was a good start to the season for Wilton.
“We’ve got a lot of our scoring back, a lot of our rebounding back, so we’re hoping to improve,” Putman said. “We put in a lot of time in the offseason, so we should be better this season.”
West Liberty undergoes big change: First-year West Liberty coach Al Fear wasn’t lying when he said “you’re going to see a big difference in West Liberty moving forward.”
The Comets scored more points, 48, in their season opener at Wilton than they had in a game all of last season.
They didn’t get the win, and they are playing without their top scorer from last year in Haddie Anderson, who scored 12 points per game and was the team’s leading rebounder.
But they do have returning starter Macy Akers, who scored 16 points in the opener, back for her junior season along with a few other impactful returners including Haylee Lehman, Austyn Crees and Madison McIntosh.
If that wasn’t enough reason for optimism, freshman Janey Gingerich impressed in her varsity debut, scoring 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Fellow freshman Martha Pace added six points off the bench.
Durant loads up on athleticism: Durant coach Doug Frett knew his team would be inexperienced this season after losing its top two players in Aubrey Werthmann, who scored 15.7 points per game, and Autumn Wolf.
The Wildcats have missed the duo early on this season, losing their first game 62-39 to Mount Pleasant and their second 82-42 to West Branch.
Frett’s hoping a trio of juniors – Ruby Kappeler, Kamryn Meyer and Aubrin Dittmer – who haven’t played since their freshman year will be able to provide a spark due to the athleticism they’ve displayed in softball and volleyball.
Through the first two games, Kappeler is averaging 11 points per game and Meyer 10.5.
The Wildcats also have Amanda Wiese and Hannah Happ, who played a lot of minutes last season, back as starters.