Senior point guard and co-captain Savannah Nesbitt says her team has their eyes on “the big three:” the Green Mountain Tournament, the Marble Valley League, and ultimately, a state championship. To achieve this, senior forward and co-captain Hannah Swanson says the team needs to work on scoring.
“Last year we had some trouble scoring,” said Swanson. “One game we had 15 points the entire game so that’s what we need to work on, getting more points on the board, because usually we’re pretty good on defense.”
Defensive play will be competitive this year with four players on the roster at 5 feet 10-inches tall or higher. Swanson is joined at the top of the chart by returning junior forward Christina Moore and sophomores Teya Johnson and Kira Courchesne. The height of these four players will help to make up for the loss of last year’s top rebounders, Lexi Reinertson and Abbi Molner.
Nesbitt will run the point for the Wildcats after missing all of last year following a knee injury. In her absence, senior shooting guard and co-captain Sammy Cunningham-Darrah and junior Colton Butler filled in nicely and effectively. This forced players to get experience in new roles. “I had played point guard up until high school so I was used to it,” said Cunningham-Darrah. “At this level it’s more difficult and me and Colton had to figure it out. We had no other option, so it was a good learning experience.”
While the Wildcats’ roster has only 11 spots, Hayford will have no shortage of rotations at his disposal. Junior Jessica Fox will be the team’s first off the bench, while Natalie Herrick and Skyler Pronovost will be worked into guard and forward spots. All provide depth at the position, while Christiana Strysko joins her fellow seniors Nesbitt and Cunningham-Darrah at the guard position.
“They had a pretty good year without me, but I’m so glad to be back,” said Nesbitt.
Coach Buddy Hayford will spend the first few games figuring out his rotations, but he believes his team can reach their goals, especially with a close-knit group of players led by a strong group of upperclassmen. Last year the Wildcats averaged four points fewer than their opponents on the season and only reached seven wins. This year it’s about creating a new winning combination.
“It starts there with good leadership,” said Hayford. “I’m looking forward to big improvements in the win column for these girls, and I’d like to think they can go deeper into the tournament. We’re trying to avoid the one-and-done and it won’t be easy in Division III. We have our work cut out for us. I hope this group works with that in mind.”