By Scott Vanscoy (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Forsyth coach Mandy Rogers enters this season with many questions about her Lady Panthers. It will be a learning process, as graduation hit the Panthers hard. They lost 85% of their scoring, as well as production in rebounds, steals, and assists. They will also miss the leadership those girls provided.
There will be many new players on the floor this season for Forsyth. It will be a building process for many of the girls, one they will have to learn as they go.
“We will have a lot of new faces on the floor for us,” said Rogers. “Although we are excited, we are a little unsure as what to expect. I think we will be athletic but small and will have to find ways to put all of that together to win games.”
Leading this year’s squad are two seniors: 5’8” Ashton Davidson (8.1 points) and 5’6” Karissa Chambers (2.5 points).
Davidson has been a force in the paint, especially on the defensive end last season. She has led the Panthers in rebounding the past two seasons, averaging 9.1 boards last year.
“She’s a great leader with tons of potential,” said Rogers. “We will look to her to step up and carry the bulk of the load that we lost to graduation.”
Chambers is the other senior on this young Forsyth team. She is very versatile and will play any position that she is asked to. Also, with her improved outside shooting ability she might surprise some this year.
“Karissa is a great kid with a lot of heart and hustle,” said Rogers. “She will need to step up big time for us to be successful.”
Hannah Sullenger (5’ 6”) and Brooklyne Romine (5’7”) are the two juniors that will be returning to new roles this season. Sullenger will have to take on a bigger guard role by playing some point guard as well as shooting guard. Sullenger needs to work on her consistency and strength if she is to be successful at the varsity level.
“She had some BIG games for us last year,” said Rogers “but we are looking for more from her this season.”
Romine battled several injuries last season that kept her minutes down but she will be asked to contribute more now that she is free from injuries. “She is strong and physical,” said Rogers. “She has always had good field goal and free throw percentages. We are looking for her to step up as a junior with that consistency.”
Emily Shipman and Kenlee Nuss will be vying for varsity minutes this season. Both were relatively new to the game last year but took to it well, learning as the season went on. Kaylee Henning and Calley Matthews are two sophomore guards who could challenge for varsity minutes but they are both unknown factors.
Shipman, a three- sport athlete, was a difference maker on the varsity team last year. Her athleticism and natural ability played a big role in her learning the game. She was a part-time starter last season as a freshman and Rogers will be looking for her to take on an even bigger role this season.
Nuss saw valuable minutes last season with the varsity and made the most of them. She, too, is new to the game but has good footwork, great hands, and a good work ethic. She will be fighting for varsity minutes.
Forsyth will have a host of freshmen that had a solid summer. “I don’t know what- if any-impact they will have at the varsity level until we get started, but all will add depth to our program and at some point I’m certain they will make their mark,” said Rogers.
The freshmen in question are Scarlett Texeira (6’0” forward), Meadow Mardis (5’10” forward), Triniti Sullenger (5’4”guard), Haley McCown (5’5”guard) and Katrina Drake (5’5” guard).
“I’m sure we will have some growing pains,” said Rogers, “but we hope to get better each and every night and be playing our best by district time. We will have to rely heavily on our defense and keep teams off the boards to be successful. I’m excited to see us grow and develop throughout the year.”