Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
After an exciting fall sports season, we have our fingers crossed for the same this winter.
With the start of high school basketball season scheduled for less than 24 hours away, here’s a list of 10 girls players in our coverage area, and in no particular order, to keep your eyes peeled for this coming season.
Rylee Leonard, Eastern Brown
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard or read about Leonard’s heroics by now. She’ll enter her sophomore season as the go-to scoring option on a bonafide district title contender. That’s after leading the Warriors to a district crown last season while scoring 16 points per game.
Wylie Shipley, North Adams
Late in the year last winter, Shipley was playing as good as anyone in the area. She carried the Devils to the program’s first-ever regional final appearance after they won their first district title in 22 years. This season, Shipley looks to build off a season where she really came into her own.
Jacey Justice, Peebles
Ability to score? Leadership qualities? An elite will to win? Jacey Justice has all of the above. The senior led the district last winter in scoring with 26.5 points per night. That went alongside 6.2 assists and 4.3 steals. The Western Carolina commit looks to lead Peebles to its third straight district crown.
Ava Hassel, Notre Dame
Hassel was SOSA’s co-Girls Basketball Player of the Year last season. Why? Her body of work says it all … 15.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.3 steals each night. Oh, and she led the Titans to a 24-3 mark and their first-ever regional final appearance. She remains one of the area’s best talents.
Alaina Keeney, Wheelersburg
Every year, Keeney seems to quietly stuff the stat sheet. The 5-foot-10 junior may just be Wheelersburg’s best pure-bread scorer. She can hit the outside shot, she can drive to the rim and she takes advantage of free throw opportunities. This season, she’ll once again give opponents nightmares.
Paige Carter, Waverly
Carter cleans glass like Windex. The senior led the Tigers in rebounds last season and emerged into a top scoring option. Waverly has all the pieces it needs to contend for an SOC title. Put simply, the Tigers just have to execute. Players like Carter is why that’s possible. She’s as tough as they come.
Kyla Burchett, McClain
If you’ve seen McClain, you know the Tigers know how to sit and play defense. It could even be designated as the team’s trademark. Burchett embodies that identity tenfold. The gritty guard averaged 11 points per game while leading McClain to a 15-7 mark and a share of the FAC title.
Kasey Kimbler, Green
“Kasey Kimbler for 3.” Go ahead and get used to hearing that now. The junior guard continued to blossom into one of the district’s best scorers last season, putting up 19.5 points per game. If she’s open, she usually scores. She’s lethal with the ball in her hands. Look for her to lead the Bobcats.
Macie Graves, Southeastern
While putting up 14 points and a 75 percent free throw percentage, Graves’ Panthers turned things around and finished 20-5. Graves was imperative to a district semifinal appearance and a 12-2 mark in SVC action. She’ll be the team’s top scoring option this season and answers the bell when needed.
Gabby Patete, Westfall
Often overshadowed by others on her team, Patete scored 10 points, shot 71 percent from the charity stripe and dialed long distance 30 times last season. She’ll be relied on to shoulder more of the Mustangs’ scoring this season. Now a senior, she has the experience needed to be an elite scorer.