By Chris Parker
Salem girls’ basketball rode a balanced offensive attack to a 17-win season last year, which was the most wins for the program since winning 22 back in 2015-16. The Lady Tigers got it done with a fairly young team, as the four of the team’s top five scorers were non-seniors. The top three scorers were underclassmen.
“We have really good team speed, so everything we do is designed to take advantage of that. Our girls have really bought into a hardworking, high pressure defense, and an up-tempo offense. Speed and aggression is our philosophy. We are still young and will be adding new pieces and responsibilities, so there’s still a lot of work to do, but we are excited about our potential,” Salem head coach Jake Reardon said.
Isabella Jadwin is the team’s top returning player. She earned first-team all-conference honors as a sophomore after posting a stat line of: 8.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
“Bella has a lot of responsibility on and off the court for us. She has been a leader for our team since she was a freshman, so the leadership side of things won’t be new for her,” Reardon said. “It’s hard to pinpoint her greatest asset as a basketball player, because above all she wants to win and will do whatever the team needs to have a chance. She is a true point guard and will be expected to continue to excel in that role. We believe she is one of the area’s best defenders as well, so we ask a lot of her on both ends.”
Sophomore Savannah Manthey was the team’s leading scorer (9.5 ppg) and rebounder (5.1 rpg) as a freshman. She earned honorable mention all-conference honors for her efforts.
“Savannah is a good athlete and came in with a solid set of fundamentals. She is getting more and more comfortable and feels even more a part of the team. That’s a hard thing to do as a freshman because you naturally defer to older players,” Reardon said. “She is really starting to understand what we are trying to do on both ends of the floor. Savannah will play as a guard, but she will be expected to do a little of everything for us. We will need her to defend, rebound, and score. She is at her best offensively when she focuses on making an impact with rebounding and defense.”
Ashton Bowers had a strong freshman season averaging 8.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2 spg.
“Ashton Bowers had a really good freshman season and seemed to really find a comfort zone this summer. She has taken her game to another level and has really started to trust herself and her ability. She will play guard and make an impact on both ends of the court,” Reardon said.
Sophomore Avery Erway does a little bit of everything for the Lady Tigers.
“Avery Erway will get a lot of time in the post for us, but can play on the outside as well,” Reardon said. “She has also started to understand what she can do to make an impact on the game. Avery is a high-motor player with great instincts. The statistics don’t show how important she is to our team.”
Senior Tatum Hatridge is Salem’s final returning all-conference honoree. She was named honorable mention all-conference after she scored 6.5 ppg and pulled down 4.3 rpg.
“Tatum Hatridge is a senior now and has continued to grow as a player and leader. She is another guard that will be asked to contribute in all aspects,” Reardon said. “On the offensive end, she is a player who has learned how to use that to her advantage to keep defenders off balance. She will also play a big role for us on the defensive end giving us some size and athleticism.”
Shelby Botkin will also provide leadership as a senior.
“She (Botkin) has grown so much as a player since her freshman season. Shelby is a solid defender and has added to her offensive skill set over the years. She is the type of player that everyone loves to have on their team, a hard worker, never complains, great teammate,” Reardon said.
Sophomore Makayla Roos and freshman Fayth Kaminski will look to be impact players on the varsity level as well.
“Makayla is another guard in our army of guards. She is very competitive and is a threat to get to the rim and hit from the outside. As she gets more comfortable and confident on the varsity level, she will be a weapon for our team,” Reardon said. “Fayth is an athletic freshman who gives us some more size in the post. She has a big upside. It’s just a matter of getting comfortable and confident in herself and that we all trust her to make plays.”
Defense will again be something Salem leans on this season.
“We took a turn towards developing a defensive identity last season, but we will be steering very hard into that philosophy this season. Our girls saw the success that can come with that hardworking defensive approach last season, so they are all bought into the philosophy. Whether we win or lose, we want to be a team that no one wants to play again because of how hard we defend and rebound,” Reardon said.
Salem opens the season on Nov. 20 at home against Northwest (Cedar Hill).
“Our expectations for this season are to be competitive every time we step on the court. There are a lot of very solid teams in this area, so it is crucial to show up ready to compete every time,” Reardon said. “The South Central Association is always competitive and should be tightly contested once again this season, so every conference game is huge. We are hopeful that we will be able to get a full season in and give the girls something normal to help take their minds off this crazy year we’re in.”