Lutheran West’s roster includes eight seniors but the Longhorns enter the 2021-22 lacking varsity experience.
If all goes well, the Longhorns will reach their high ceiling this winter.
“We’re a mix of senior leaders and very young players,” said second-year coach Andrea Boriska. “Our athleticism leaves me optimistic. I believe we have the potential for a ton of growth in skill and team chemistry. This group will compete every day.”
The Longhorns finished last season with a 9-10 record overall and a 5-5 mark in the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division. They return two starters and five others with some varsity experience.
It’s the eight seniors Boriska believes will make the difference for her team this season.
“We have great senior leadership this year and we’ll be leaning on that throughout the season,” she said. “We have a solid group of very good athletes/competitors and we’re looking to improve each day as we gain chemistry on the floor. We’ll be relying on work ethic and competitive instincts, which should put us in a pretty good spot.”
Seniors Carina Cedeno and Evelyn Albers are returning starters.
Albers, a 6-foot-1 post, earned first-team All-CVC honors after scoring 9.88 points per game with 9.06 rebounds and nearly one block per contest.
“Evelyn is a dominating force for us on both ends of the floor,” Boriska said. “She locks down the paint but also has excellent court vision and awareness and can knock down jumpers, which allows her to stretch the floor. She can score the ball in a lot of different ways and can be a lock-down defender at any position. We’re looking for Evelyn to continue to impact games this season and we’re excited to see her flourish in a leadership position.”
Cedeno, a 5-foot-9 point guard, averaged 5.41 points and 4.71 rebounds per game last season. She earned second-team All-CVC honors.
“Carina is a much-improved and talented scorer,” Boriska said. “She has put in a ton of work in the off-season to elevate her game. She is learning how to use her length to her advantage and is a solid rebounder for us. We’re looking for her to reap the benefits of her hard work on the court this season as she steps into a new role as a leader and point guard.”
Seniors Arryon Esposito and Makayla Spelich also are projected to start this season after seeing limited action last year.
Esposito, a 5-foot-10 guard/post, missed last season with an injury. She brings a boatload of athleticism to the court.
“Arry is the true definition of an athlete,” Boriska said. “She has great size and speed and goes hard literally every second that she’s on the court. Her speed and athleticism combined with her vertical make her a great rebounder and can present a variety of challenges for opposing defenders. After missing the entire season last year with a major injury, we’re proud to see her back on the court and are really excited to see what she can bring to our team.”
Spelich, a 5-foot-7 post, averaged two points and 1.4 rebounds in the three games she played in last winter.
“We’re excited to have Makayla back after missing almost the entire season last year with an injury,” Boriska said. “She brings vocal leadership and physicality to our team.”
Lutheran West’s depth will come from seniors Caelan Mack, Marie Williams, Savannah Crowley, and Isabella Lopez-Alvarado, junior Abbey Hammer-Huber, sophomore CeAujanay Grant, and freshmen Ella McCarty and Samantha Vogel.
Mack is a 5-foot-6 guard, Williams is a 5-foot-6 guard/post, Crowley is a 5-foot-8 post, Lopez-Alvarado is a 5-foot-4 guard, Hammer-Huber is a 5-foot-8 post, Grant is a 5-foot-7 guard/post, McCarty is a 5-foot-7 guard, and Vogel is a 5-foot-3 guard.
“We’re looking to get better every day and build chemistry on the floor,” Boriska said. “Our goal is to compete every day and improve from last year in our conference standing.”