Mentor opens the 2018-2019 season intent on redemption after a disappointing season in 2017-2018.
The Cardinals finished 8-16 overall and 4-10 in the Greater Cleveland Conference and failed to reach the district tournament for the first time in over a decade.
Even with two returning starters and nine others with varsity experience, Mentor enters the season relatively young, but hungry.
“We have a good amount of girls returning from last year, which is great, but we are still a young basketball team overall,” Mentor coach James Hrusovsky said. “The girls understand the style in which we want to play. Now, it is about executing and focusing on the details.”
Carolyn Wochele and Aleksa Tatarunas return to the starting lineup for the Cardinals.
Wochele, a junior guard, averaged 8.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in earning honorable mention All-GCC for the Cardinals while Tatarunas, a junior post, scored 4.0 points per game with 4.8 rebounds and 0.9 assists. Tatarunas also earned honorable mention all-league honors.
“Carolyn is a great shooter and she is focusing on getting better at the other areas of her game,” Hrusovsky said. “Lex plays hard all the time and is our most physical player in the program.”
Forward Cassie Sellers is the lone senior projected in the starting lineup. She averaged 1.6 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game off the bench last season.
“Cassie had a great offseason in all phases and it has shown on the court early on,” Hrusovsky said.
Junior guard Kaitlyn Uneitch and sophomore forward Brooke Hickman round out the projected starting lineup.
Uneitch averaged 2.4 points, 1.1 rebound and 0.4 assists per game last season while Hickman dropped in 3.6 points and pulled down 2.9 rebounds per game.
“Kaitlyn is in extreme basketball shape and has improved her offensive game a ton in the offseason,” Hrusovsky said. “Brooke is all basketball. She has improved on her shooting range and the coaches are excited to see her take the next step this season.”
Seniors Allyson Swider, Nicole Betz, Caroline Halloran and Emily Pachinger and junior Jasmine Guyton will provide depth for the Cardinals.
Swider, a forward, averaged 4.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game while Betz, a forward, averaged 1.2 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest.
“Allyson is a great leader for our program. We are trying to get her fully healthy and have high hopes for her this season,” Hrusovsky said. “Nicole is going to get a lot of opportunities this year to use her athleticism. She is still getting back into basketball mode after a great golf season. “
Halloran, a forward, is coming back from a foot injury and Pachinger, a forward, is among Mentor’s most physical players.
“I’m so proud of Caroline’s toughness. She broke her foot the second week of season last year and did not start running again till late spring,” Hrusovsky said. “Emily brings physicality to our team. She is still learning and continuing to improve her game each day.”
Guyton, a guard, averaged 2.6 points, 0.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.
“Jasmine is one of our fastest players in the program and we are looking for Jasmine to use that to her advantage,” Hrusovsky said.
The Cardinals hope to compete for the GCC title this year.
To do that, they’ll need to limit their turnovers and win the rebounding battle.
“We have been stressing to the team about taking care of the basketball,” Hrusovsky said. “It is important for us to win the rebounding battle on both sides of the floor. Like everyone, hitting free throws is always a key to being successful.”
The Cardinals open the 2018-2019 season against Canton GlenOak on Nov. 24 at Ursuline College as part of the Ohio Varsity Tip-Off Classic. The game is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.