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The SCHS girls' basketball team is the 8th Region champs until someone knocks them off in March, but you would never know from the preseason projections.
Anderson County and South Oldham are trendy picks to win the region this year so the Lady Rockets will have to prove once again that they are top dogs -- despite being the only preseason ranked team in the region, at No. 16.
"I wouldn't put us in the top three right now based on what teams like Simon Kenton, South Oldham, Anderson County and Oldham County have coming back," SCHS head coach Sally Zimmerman said. "But I think we'll be a contender once the region rolls around. I think our schedule will pay off again, and as the season goes on and we can get some more scorers we're going to be tough. It's going to be a process this year, but I think we're going to be a solid team at the end."
The Lady Rockets are gunning to make school history with a third straight region title.
"We still have our goals," Zimmerman said. "It's not the district (tournament) nets, but the next set (in the regional tournament). We could be the first team in school history to win three straight region titles."
Zimmerman knows the Lady Rockets will need time to grow, and that they'll see a lot of different looks this year.
With Raechele Gray leading the way, the Lady Rockets will need more big time performers to step up.
The team lost starters in Amber Morrison, Heather Axline and Ashley Ford -- three players that played a lot of big time, pressure filled minutes last season.
Despite Gray, the point guard, being perhaps the best player in the region this year, Zimmerman said the team's strength could be in the post.
"We're going to be totally different this year," she said. "It's nice to have your most experienced and talented player at point (in Gray), but we've got a lot of talent and experience in the post this year. Karissa (Nicholson) started last year, and Jennica (Garitty) played a lot. How those two go is going to be how the team goes. They've got to get some points and control the boards."
Backing up Nicholson and Garitty will be Paige Radcliff and hopefully Laney Hinkle, if she can return from a back injury.
"Paige has been working very hard and she's got quick feet and is a good jumper," Zimmerman said. "She does a lot of things that disrupt teams, so we're looking to get her more time. Laney was doing some very good things over the summer, but we're not sure when she'll be back. Maybe sometime in late January."
Garitty gave Zimmerman a taste of what she hopes will be the norm, picking up 21 rebounds in a scrimmage last week.
"If she can get major rebounds like that, then good things are going to happen for us," Zimmerman said. "We need her and Karissa to control the boards so we can get out on the break."
Inexperience on the wings is what is tempering Zimmerman's early expectations.
"In the post we've got a lot of experience, but not much depth," she said. "But on the wings we've got a ton of depth, but no experience. Allison Morris got some minutes last year, and I think she's going to be fine. Haleigh (LeCompte) got just a couple of minutes last year, and Marissa Raisor and Dee Dee Davis are sophomores that didn't play varsity last year. Plus, we've got sophomores Taylor Shaw and Hannah Stucker that can help out, but they didn't even play JV last year. It's going to take a little time to get our wings some experience, but we've got a lot of pieces to work with."
Everybody knows that Gray will handle a bulk of the scoring, but how she scores could be interesting.
"We could even see some box-and-one defenses this year," Zimmerman said.
With one player chasing Gray all over the court and trying to shut her down, the other four could play a zone and force the other Lady Rockets to beat them.
The key to ending the gimmicky defenses, Zimmerman said will be having other player step up.
The Lady Rockets will hit the road early and stay out there through most of December and January, with just five home games before February. However, the girls will end the season with six straight homes games, playing the entire last month of the regular season at home.
"It's kind of nice with how the schedule worked out," Zimmerman said. "We've got the region at home this year, so hopefully with all those home games at the end of the season we can get very comfortable with our home court."
The girls again will not back down from playing anyone. The Lady Rockets open the season at preseason No. 8 Dunbar on Nov. 26, and face at least three ranked teams in December (No. 7 Scott County, No. 15 Mercy and No. 10 Montgomery County), two in January (No. 18 North Hardin and No. 4 Manual) and two more in February (No. 6 Butler and No. 9 Henry Clay).
"I think our schedule is really going to pay off again this year," Zimmerman said. "We're playing a lot of the top teams, and that's really helped us in the past."