The Buffalo girls managed 10 wins last season despite fielding a young team that featured just one senior.
That experienced gained should pay dividends this season.
“I saw a lot of maturity from the entire team the second half of last season and throughout the summer. Their decision making and their focus on the details of basketball improved immensely,” Buffalo head coach Tom Stokes said. “I am counting on them to pick up where they left off at the end of summer. Several girls got significant playing time last year and I am counting on them to use that experience to be more competitive in both practice and in games.”
Things this year will start with junior Courtney Austin after she led the Lady Bison in points (17.8), assists (4.0) and steals (2.8) last season. Those numbers are only expected to improve in her junior season.
“It all begins with having a basketball mind and a heart that dedicates every ounce of energy she has in to being the best she can be,” Stokes said of Austin. “She is a student of the game and she has a gift when it comes to thinking about the strategic things in basketball that can give a player the edge over their opponent. I expect her to get better at every phase of the game due to her second to none work ethic.”
Classmate Emily Rice also returns after averaging 12.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Rice knocked down a team-high 63 3-pointers last season.
“Her (Rice’s) scoring ability helps keep teams from solely concentrating on Courtney. I think Emily has the ability to be one of the better shooters in the area. Like Courtney, she wants to do whatever it takes to be the best she can be,” Stokes said.
Seniors Taryn Elia, Emma Wolf and Emilee Todd return for the Lady Bison this season. Wolf scored 2.8 points per game last year and was third on the team in rebounding at 4.3 per game.
Maddie Jacobs and Allie Maddux add to Austin and Rice to give Buffalo a strong junior core. Jacobs is the third-leading returning scorer after putting in 3.8 points per game last year. She also pulled down 4.2 rebounds per game.
Sophomores Madison Andrews and Bethany Lancaster return after earning spot starts last year. Classmates Makayla Short and Jaylen Cody will provide depth.
Senior Ayla Pope and Rayghan Portman have made significant improvements since last year according to Stokes and will compete for playing time.
Stokes’ expectations for his girls are simple this season.
“My main expectation for this year’s team is to show up to every practice and every game ready to give it all they have and for each and every girl to be the best teammate they can be,” Stokes said. “I want these girls to be the best example of a true team that they can be.”
Buffalo opens the season Nov. 27 through Dec. 1 at the Fair Grove Tournament.