BOTKINS — Botkins and Houston’s girls basketball teams are each looking for improvement with many returning players from last year.
Both Botkins coach Phil Groves and Houston coach Brad Allen said they’ve seen improvement — though only one did when the squads faced off in a Shelby County Athletic League game on Tuesday.
The Trojans scored the first 16 points and won their second consecutive game by beating the Wildcats 54-19. It was the second lopsided win in four days for the Trojans, which beat Waynesfield-Goshen 57-24 on Saturday.
“We came ready to play tonight, and that’s always a positive,” Groves said. “Our girls were aggressive and attacked the basket. They executed on offense. We’ve been preaching at practice that everybody’s got to be on the same page with team execution both offensively and defensively.”
Botkins (4-2, 2-2 SCAL) opened the season with lopsided wins over Hardin Northern and Jackson Center and then followed with a nine-point loss to Anna and a 19-point loss to Fort Loramie.
“Our girls have bounced back well since those two losses,” Groves said.
The Trojans finished 16-8 overall last season and third in the SCAL. The squad lost two seniors to graduation but has every other player back, including all five starters.
Junior guard Carmen Heuker was a first team all-SCAL selection last year after averaging 10.6 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals per game. Other returning starters include junior forward Aleah Johnson, junior guard Boston Paul, senior guard Makenna Maurer and senior forward Jill Greve.
“It’s a total team effort,” Groves said. “We have different leading scorers every night. We have good senior leadership. All of them play a key role in that.”
Senior forward Madison Wendel is another key returnee, and she’s joined by two key newcomers in freshman guard Camdyn Paul and freshman guard Melanie Maurer.
“We’ve made it a priority from the start that we want to improve every single game,” Groves, who is in his third season, said. “So far, we’ve done that. Even in our two losses, there were positives in that that we had as a group. Ultimately, we’re getting better every game, and that’s all we can expect.”
Houston (2-4, 2-3) didn’t have a senior on last year’s 7-17 squad and had been competitive in every game up until Tuesday’s matchup. The squad struggled shooting-wise on Tuesday and couldn’t slow down the hot-shooting Trojans.
“We’ve been playing well in spurts,” Allen said. “We came out strong in the first half against Russia and played good early against Anna. We thought we’d bring that type of energy tonight, but we just didn’t have it. We didn’t have the execution where we need to have it. Give credit to Botkins; they came out and they got after it.”
Among the Wildcats’ returnees are junior guard Megan Maier and junior forward Amber Stangel, who were both honorable mention all-SCAL selections last year. Maier averaged 9.6 points per game last year while Stangel averaged 9.2 points per game. Also back is junior guard Rylie Voisard and senior forward Catryn Mohler
“Amber has been scoring some, and Rylie has been hot early,” Allen said. “Megan Maier has been very stable and strong as our point guard.”
Makenna Maurer scored seven points in the first quarter to help Botkins build a 19-5 lead heading into the second. The Trojans outscored the Wildcats 12-4 in the second, 11-6 in the third and 12-4 in the fourth.
Heuker led the squad with 18 points while Maurer finished with 17 and Camdyn Paul added seven. Taylor Maxwell led Houston with six points.
Botkins is scheduled to host Fairlawn on Saturday in SCAL action. The Jets have been inactive recently due to a COVID-19 outbreak; they haven’t played since Dec. 7.
Houston is scheduled to host New Bremen on Monday.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.