Rolla was a young team in 2016-17 that was starting four freshmen by the end of the season. The Lady Bulldogs finished 8-17 with a loss to Helias Catholic in the first round of district play.
That experience gained last year should pay off for the returners this year.
“The girls learned what it takes to compete on a nightly basis and the practice habits that you need to win at the varsity level. We had several ballgames where we were two or three possessions away from a win. I believe those experiences should pay off this season,” Rolla head coach Luke Floyd said. “Over the offseason, we’ve been in the weight room and are working on improving our athleticism. We had a good summer where I thought the girls really played some great basketball. We had great chemistry and the younger girls really stepped up into leadership roles.”
Rolla used a balanced attack last year with nine players averaging between 3.5 and 8 points per game. All but two of those players return, as Addy Brow and Kelly Dupes were the only seniors on the roster last season.
Floyd will look to use that balanced look again this year.
“We have great combinations of speed and size, so I feel like we can match up with most opponents on the defensive end and attack in a variety of ways on the offensive end,” Floyd said. “We have a very self-less team, so I anticipate balanced scoring and hopefully more scoring.”
Ellie Rodgers has stepped up as a leader at point guard. She led the team with eight points per game last year. She also had 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.6 steals. The 2.4 assists and 2.6 steals also led the team.
Rebecca Janke returns as the team’s leading rebounder after pulling down 9.6 boards per game to go with her 6.1 points. Sophomores Karlee Cheesman and Loran Pritchett will also be leaders on the team after scoring 6.6 and 4.8 points per game as freshmen.
Mattie Dean will be a senior leader this year coming off of a junior year that saw her average 4.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Kianna Garner and Becca Skyles are two juniors that have worked hard at the junior varsity level and will contribute on varsity this year.
Floyd will look for more consistency out of his team this year after the experience they gained last year.
“We expect to compete on a nightly basis,” Floyd said. “As we build our program, these young girls were thrown into the fire last year to prepare us for the next three years. We knew we’d take our lumps last year, but I hope that experience pays huge dividends for us this year.”
Rolla opens the season on Nov. 18 at home against Marshfield.