Julia Marshall, Abby Fawcett and Abby Henning accounted for more than half of Bishop Carroll's scoring last season. While their graduation hurts, they prepared the current batch of guards well.
"When we scrimmaged, these guards went against them every day, day in and day out," said Carroll coach Don Racine, whose team finished third in Class 5A at 22-3. "They had their good days and they had their bad days.
"They got better, too. That's how I do it, you scrimmage against the best in practice and you'll get better."
Those guards — seniors Emmie Rech, Kathleen Duling, Hannah Lubbers, Nicole Noetzel and junior Cathy Brugman — will play critical roles. While there likely isn't a 17-point scorer like Marshall, Racine expects all to chip in offensively.
He would love to see each average 8-10 points. They can drive to the basket, hit the jumper and make three-pointers.
"They can shoot the three," Racine said. "They shot the three in practice, they shot them in games. They have to become more consistent about it and become comfortable."
The guards can look inside to senior forwards Nicole Walden (5-foot-9), who averaged more than 10 points, and Julie Sooter (6-1). Both are returning starters.
"Even though Nicole isn't tall, she still can get position," said Racine, who also noted Walden's 17 rebounds in the 5A sub-state final. "She's smart and very athletic. she boxes out well. And Sooter, she's improved immensely since her freshman year."
Coach: Don Racine, 31st season.
2008: 22-3, 15-1 CL (T1st)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nicole Walden 5-9 Sr. F
Julie Sooter 6-1 Sr. F
Cathy Brugman 5-11 Jr. G
Emmie Rech 5-2 Sr. G
Kathleen Duling 5-8 Sr. G
Coach: Lonnie Lollar, fifth season.
Last season: 13-9, 11-5 CL (4th)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Blake Bell 6-6 Sr. F
Brian Rohleder 6-3 Jr. G
Matt Slagle 6-3 Sr. F
Chad Darland 5-10 Jr. G
Ben Dreiling 6-3 Jr. F
That Bell, an Oklahoma quarterback commitment, is still playing basketball gives the Eagles hope. He averaged 17 points, eight rebounds. “He was our best player last year, and he’ll obviously be our best player this year,” Lollar said.
Carroll graduated eight seniors and most of its height, so Bell must play strong in the post. But offense is needed from the guards to take defensive pressure off Bell. Rohleder and Dreiling, who started playing more late last season, are tough defensively and can rebound and score. Defense will again be key for Carroll, which had the league’s best defense last year.