RIPLEY - The Ripley High School basketball squad feel collectively that they have something to prove. The team still has the bad taste of last season’s 40-39 sectional loss at Riverside to remind them of that heartache, a game that ended on a blocked shot that could have given Ripley the victory.
For the Lady Vikings, who capped a winless season on that night, it is about looking forward, not behind.
“The slate is clean and we get a fresh start on a new season. These girls have put in a lot of hard work to get better and we are most definitely a better basketball team,” said Coach Justin Frashier.
The squad lost the leadership of Jillian Mullins and Ali Cunningham to graduation and a new group of senior leaders has emerged.
Based on playing time logged as underclassmen, it appears that guard Chelsey Hager (10.0 ppg) and forward Sarah Williams (11.4, 8.0 rebounds) will lead the way on the court. Williams is a returning Special Honorable Mention selection in the Mountain State Athletic Conference and a Class AAA Honorable Mention selection.
“Sarah has refined her game and leads by example. Chelsey is so passionate and just wants to win. She has become more vocal and the girls respect her. I expect very good seasons from both of them,” said Coach Frashier.
Joining Hager and Williams are talented seniors Kensey Bergdorf, Savanna Williams and Katie Robas.
The Lady Vikings are thrilled to have senior shooting guard Amy Ferrell, a transfer from Parkersburg Catholic who appears to have cracked the starting lineup for the blue and white.
Senior Mikayla Pursley is still sidelined with concussion related issues from last year. Pursley can still be found at practices cheering on the girls. It is unclear when Pursley will be released to participate.
The most improved player on the court may be junior center Jade Donohew.
“Jade reported to practices in incredible shape. She is playing more aggressively and we need her presence on the boards and the scoring column,” said coach Frashier.
Donohew is isn’t the lone junior, she is joined by forward Emily Oldham who is competing for playing time and received valuable playing time last season coming off the bench for the Lady Vikings.
The squad has two sophomores in Audra Thomas and Kaitlyn Thomas. Freshman post player Zoe Smith, already 5-foot-11 appears to be an intriguing prospect for the future of the squad. Smith saw success in middle school and should see the floor in some capacity this season, gaining valuable playing time to help her develop offensively. Frosh guard Jerri Patterson, also a talented player, joins the squad and will see some playing time.
Page 2 of 2 - The Lady Vikings will play pressure defense and have expanded on their spread, pass and cut style offense.
Greg Bower, Jon Melhorn and Kevin McClung will serve as assistants to Frashier this season.
“We are blessed to have three good, hard working assistant coaches on our staff. I like the attitude of our team in the early going and we are anxious to get out there and get the season rolling,” said an enthusiastic Frashier.
The Lady Vikings open at Shady Spring tonight and host Point Pleasant on December 10 in the home opener.