By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Forsyth finished its 2018-19 campaign with a 15-11 record, falling to Clever in the opening round of districts.
Despite the early exit, the Lady Panthers and head coach Mandy Rogers have reason for optimism this season.
While perennial heavyweights in both the Mid-Lakes Conference and potential district grouping are dealing with significant roster turnover this season, Forsyth returns almost its entire roster.
Graduated senior Hannah Sullenger (6.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.6 spg) represents the program’s lone departure.
“Hannah was a great leader for us,” Rogers said. “She was our starting point guard and a good outside shooter who had a lot of games with multiple 3-point baskets.”
Scarlett Texeira and Emily Shipman will lead the charge for the Lady Panthers this season.
The pair were named co-MVPs for the team in 2018-19.
Texeira, a 5-foot-11 junior, averaged 11.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season.
“[Texeira] posted quite a few double doubles and several triple doubles,” Rogers said. “She led our team in scoring and rebounds and also posted an average of over five blocks per game.”
Shipman, a 5-foot-8 senior, averaged 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 steals per game last season for the Lady Panthers.
“[Shipman] is a natural leader and phenomenal athlete that continues to get better and better on the basketball court,” Rogers said. “She attacks the rim well, but can also shoot from the outside. A great defender, passer and rebounder, she can play any position for us.”
Forsyth also returns a trio of seniors in Kaylee Henning (6.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.8 spg), Kenlee Nuss (6.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Calley Matthews (3.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg).
Nuss tore an ACL in January and hopes to return to the lineup as her rehab progresses.
Sophomore Emmalea Cook (3.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg), junior Triniti Sullenger (3.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg), junior Katrina Drake, junior Meadow Mardis, sophomore Landry Stuart and junior Morgan Bloom round out the list of Forsyth’s returning players.
With a host of depth, talent and experience returning, Rogers has high hopes for the team’s potential.
“We finally have a lot of upperclassmen,” Rogers said. “For years, its felt like we’ve had a ‘young’ team, but now we have a lot of returners, a lot of experience and a lot of depth on the floor. We need to capitalize on that.”
While blessed with depth, Rogers noted the need to remain healthy in order to be successful amidst a challenging schedule featuring a host of teams looking for revenge.
“We had a lot of close games last year,” Rogers said. “We know that those teams will have us circled on their schedule and will want to get those wins back. We expect some close games, and we know we will have to be at our best to get wins night in and night out.”
Forsyth opens its season Nov. 25 at Seymour.