RIPLEY - Lady Viking guard Jillian Mullins is a special player. Mullins (10.1 ppg, 4 rebounds) had a season ending knee injury with six games to go and has been working hard to rehab her knee back to health ever since.
Mullins, one of two seniors (Ali Cunningham) on the squad this year, will be relied on for her experience, shooting, ball handling and tenacious defense.
"Our whole offense will go through Jilly. She is smart with the ball and has a very consistent shot," said coach Justin Frashier.
"We do have competition going on at multiple positions, which is a good thing."
Gone are Rachel Stuck, Ryne Hill and Paige Smith who combined for 32.4 points per game in 2011-12.
Juniors Chelsey Hager (8.0 ppg, 6 rebounds) and Sarah Williams (6.0 ppg, 6 rebounds) both displayed the ability to be scorers last season. Hager, an all conference left fielder in softball, is a dangerous shooter who can catch fire from three-point range and make an impact on any game.
She nailed three in one quarter versus Capital last season.
Williams, Jade Donohew and multi-sport Ripley standout Ali Cunningham will be taking up a lot of the slack left by the graduated post presence of Smith last season. Cunningham can play multiple positions where her versatility and athleticism can be a plus for the team.
Talented junior athlete Kacie Whitney will also have an impact this season and will challenge for a starting position in the backcourt. She didn't play last season but was a standout during middle school and as a freshman.
Sophomore Emily Oldham is an underclassman that coach Frashier thinks can make an impact this year.
"Emily is developing well as a player and will be a nice player in our program. As the season progresses you will see her getting minutes," said Frashier.
Kensey Bergdorf, Molli Cunningham, Taylor Dale, Mikayla Pursley, Maranda Smith and Savanna Williams will all be competing for playing time. Coach Frashier believes that he has a versatile roster that can be used effectively with multiple girls getting minutes. For Ripley (8-15) overall and (5-12) in Mountain State Athletic Conference play last season, they will be competitive.
A core of the girls are back from a team that with a few breaks could have won a few more games in 2011-12 as they lost six games by five points or less and two of those in heartbreakers in overtime.
The highlight of the season was a 52-50 road victory over No. 10 Huntington. The blue and white fell to Capital in the sectionals 35-32 in a game the Lady Vikings should have taken.
Coach Frashier believes these are blocks to build a firm foundation for his team. His teams have played notoriously good defensively. Last season versus Nicholas County and one of the state's best prep players in Shealyn Shafer. Ripley put the clamps on the scorer and while the Lady Vikings fell 37-34, a message was clearly sent.
"Any coach out there who scribbles a "W" on their schedule before they play us because of our youth are in for a rude awakening. We are more athletic than last year and we still have leadership on the floor," said Frashier.
The third year head coach will be assisted again this season by coaches John Kennedy and Greg Bower.
The Lady Viking basketball team is coming and they are coming to play. The team's season kicks off December 4 at Man with their home opener scheduled for December 11 versus the Lady Wildcats of Nitro High School.