SIDNEY — Sidney’s girls basketball team is looking for improved results this year after winning a combined two games the last two seasons. Helping in that goal are two key freshmen.
The Yellow Jackets are already off to a 4-1 start this season following a 0-23 campaign a year ago and a 2-21 campaign in 2017-18. The team has two starters and four other key returnees in addition to five key newcomers, including two freshmen, which helped the district’s eighth grade team finish 15-2 last year.
“I think our team has shown improvement since this summer,” first-year coach Jamal Foster, who succeeds Lauren Stefancin, said. “We’ve put a lot of hours in trying to improve every players’ skill set and I’m pleased with everyone’s progression.
“They work hard and have been receptive to coaching thus far. I think we’re turning the corner on committing to both ends of the floor.”
The Yellow Jackets have two starters back in 5-foot-11 junior forward Samantha Reynolds and 5-10 senior forward Hallie Truesdale. Reynolds averaged a team-best 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last year while Truesdale averaged 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Other returnees are 5-4 junior guard Kelsey Kizer, 5-10 junior forward Makayla Hurey, 5-11 sophomore forward Cassidy Truesdale and 5-7 senior guard Kaitlin VanZant.
“We don’t have a lot of varsity experience so we’re hoping for consistency from our upperclassmen,” Foster said. “Hallie Truesdale is the epitome of what our team strives to be: tough and gritty. She’s a leader by effort and someone I can count on.
“ …Samantha and Kelsey will be relied upon early and often this season. They’re both game changers. Samantha was our lone all-conference player last year. Her ability to score inside, rebound and defend the rim will be crucial. Kelsey’s ability to shoot can really stretch the floor. We need her to make shots and defend. She can do it.”
Key newcomers include freshmen guards Allie Stockton and Lexee Brewer, sophomore guard Peyton Wiley and senior Autumn Henley.
“On a roster full of optimism, the underclassmen may be the bright spot people talk about most,” Foster said. “I have some freshmen and some sophomores that if they become consistent will be big for us this season but we have to be patient and allow them to grow.”
Stockton, who is 5-10, was a phenom through middle school and has already generated recruiting interest through her summertime AAU play. Brewer, who is 5-5, was also key member of successful middle school teams with Stockton.
“The tandem you’ll hear about mostly will be a pair of freshman best friends who you might as well get used to hearing their names for the next four years,” Foster said. “Allie Stockton and Lexee Brewer will be seeing the varsity floor early but that doesn’t mean we’re in a rush for expectations right away.
“I stay on them often in practice but they’re improving each week and that’s all we require right now. They’re inseparable in practice so sometimes we have to split them up to get things done but I never have to worry about their effort come game time. They go hard.
“Alike but yet so different, Lexee will take over the reigns as point guard early on. Lexee’s quickness and defensive instincts make her really special on that side of the floor. You can’t teach the way she pressures the basketball and once she understands what we expect from her offensively she’ll be dangerous and schools will be calling.
“Unlike most freshman, Allie’s game is more mature. She’s a smart two-way player who can affect the game in more ways than the box score. Allie has put a lot of hours in working on her skillset so she has the tools to be an impact player in the league from day one. My job is to make sure she’s not overthinking out there and just playing the game. She’s a competitor and when she’s allowing the game to come her, she’ll be a special one.
”Things won’t happen overnight with these underclassmen but we’ve got time and if we keep working hard, things will change.”
Foster said the squad is hoping to make waves in the first year of the newly reformed Miami Valley League but said the squad’s record won’t be as big of a focus this year as future seasons.
“Our expectations this winter won’t be measured by wins and losses,” Foster said. “I’ve been on the jobs six months and we’ve yet to take about records. We just hit the floor running every practice well and competing. We’re just trying to change our mentality towards the game. Then we’ll change the culture.”