Kenston will have a much different look this winter as the Bombers have the unenviable task of returning all five starters from last season.
Fortunately, the Bombers do have six returning letter-winners from last season, but even they’ll have different roles and responsibilities this winter.
“Their roles will drastically change this year,” said head coach Kevin Hinkle, who is 157-89 in 12 years at the school. “I think we will be a much-improved team the second half of the season as players adjust to their new roles and as we get new players more varsity experience.”
The Bombers finished 11-11 overall last season and 4-8 in the Western Reserve Conference.
To improve upon their win total last season, the Bombers are faced with several challenges they’ll have to overcome, not to mention the resistance they’ll get from their opponents.
“The biggest challenge is players learning and accepting their new roles,” Hinkle said. “Although we have experience, we also will have some inexperience that we will need to adjust to. Just like any other team, we need to stay healthy and continue to develop our individual skills.”
Hinkle will lean on his team’s versatility to help clear each hurdle the Bombers face.
“We have players that can play multiple positions, which will allow us to play small lineups when needed and bigger lineups when needed,” he said. “We will use this to our advantage as it will allow us to match up with different-sized opponents and play multiple styles of basketball.”
Kenston’s projected starting lineup includes two seniors, one junior, and a sophomore.
The seniors include 5-foot-9 forward Alexis Black and 6-foot center Amy Jarmolowicz. Black averaged 2.2 points with 1.9 rebounds per game last season while Jarmolowicz added 2.0 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.
“Alexis is a two-year returning letterwinner for us and our most experienced player. We expect her to fill multiple roles which include scoring, defending, and rebounding,” Hinkle said. “Amy is a two-year letterwinner who gives us an inside presence. We will rely on her to defend, rebound, and contribute to our scoring.”
Junior Mariela Macias is a 5-foot-2 junior point guard who averaged 1.1 points per game last season. Sophomore Morgan Cicek, a 5-foot-5 guard, returns as the team’s leading scorer from last season as she averaged 6.4 points per contest. Sophomore Aurora Young, a 5-foot-9 guard/forward rounds out the projected starting lineup.
“(Macias is) a quick point guard who can handle the ball and defend. We will rely heavily on her to handle the ball for us this year,” Hinkle said. “As our leading returning scorer from last year, we will rely on (Cicek’s) shooting ability and her ability to handle the ball to create plays for us. Aurora is a long, athletic player who can score, rebound, defend, and handle the ball for us.”
Two seniors, two juniors, and a freshman will provide the Bombers with depth.
The seniors include Angela Kale, a 5-foot-5 forward, and Samantha Sunderhaft, a 5-foot-11 center.
“(Kale is) a returning letterwinner who does all the little things that coaches love. (She is) a good rebounder for her size,” Hinkle said. “(Sunderhaft is) a tall post that can give us depth inside and provide much-needed rebounding.”
The juniors are Ali Manis, a 5-foot-8 guard/forward, and Marissa Cerha, a 5-foot-5 guard, and Carley Timmons is a 5-foot-7 freshman guard.
“(Manis is) a two-year returning letterwinner who can play multiple positions and can defend and score. She could be a starter for us too,” Hinkle said. “(Cerha is) a guard that can shoot the ball and give us depth at the guard position. (Timmons is) a young player that can shoot the ball and will develop as the year goes on.”
Kenston’s hopes of competing for the Western Reserve Conference title rest on young players growing up in a hurry and jelling as a team.
“We need to do all the little things day in and day out,” Hinkle said. “Our players have to accept and fulfill their roles for us to be successful. We need to play with a we, not me mentality.”