Expectations around the Chardon girls’ basketball program are always high and nothing has changed heading into the 2017-2018 season.
The Hilltoppers, who finished 18-6 last winter, return three starters and a host of others with varsity experience. Fourth-year head coach Cullen Harris plans to use the depth to his advantage.
“We will play 8-10 kids on a regular basis,” Harris said. “With our depth, we want to apply continuous pressure for 32 minutes. We have to compete on every possession. We don’t have, ‘Walk in the gym and win,’ talent. We have to be mindful of competing with a purpose every possession in order to be successful.”
Two seniors and three juniors fill out the projected starting lineup.
Seniors Grace Bradley and Faith DiLillo are slotted to play forward.
Bradley, a three-year starter who averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.5 steals and 1 block per game last year, was named all-Western Reserve Conference, Geauga County Player of the Year and, second team News Herald, and honorable mention all-Northeast Lakes District as a junior.
“Grace Bradley impacts the game in a variety of ways on both ends of the floor,” Harris said. “She plays hard and has skill and size to make her a matchup nightmare.”
DiLillo, also a three-year starter, averaged 4.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last winter.
“Faith brings good size and athletic ability to our lineup,” Harris said. “She hustles, defends, and runs the floor well. She’s a three-year starter who provides stability and leadership to her teammates.”
Junior guard Lindsey Nichols also returns to the starting lineup for the third straight season. She averaged 3.1 points, 2 assists and 2.5 steals and turned the ball over just 24 times in 24 games last year.
“Lindsey plays a perfect role for us as a distributor, lockdown defender, and takes care of the basketball,” Harris said. “She’s a three-year starter who brings stability and leadership to her teammates.”
Juniors Sydney Feller and Danni McCartney round out the projected starting lineup for the Hilltoppers.
Feller averaged 12.5 points from her guard position and connected on 71 of 170 3-point tries (41.8-percent) on the way to earning all-WRC honors. She also was named third team all-Northeast Lakes District, third team News Herald and was an all-Geauga County selection.
“Sidney can shoot with the best kids in the state,” Harris said. “She has worked tremendously hard to develop other areas of her game in the offseason.”
McCartney, a forward, was injured last season but earned a starting role as a freshman.
“Danni is a great athlete who physically imposes her will on her opponents offensively and defensively,” Harris said. “She rebounds, defends, hustles, and gets to the rim at will.”
Harris also expects major contributions from sophomore guard Hallie Landies (2.8 ppg), junior post Tori Butala (5.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.2 bpg), and senior guard Clara Lundblad (2.0 ppg).
“Watch out for this (Landies),” Harris said. “She can get buckets at will. She’s a tremendously gifted athlete who will fight for starting role. Butala provides length and stretches the floor. I think we have the potential to be very successful this season if we continue to focus on doing the little things necessary to win close ball games.”
Chardon opens the season at home against Nordonia on Nov. 25.