May 24, 2016

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Girls basketball preview
As always, Lady Salukis will live or die with defense
BRIDGEPORT - Winning regional championships has become a habit for Red Hill High School's girls basketball team, and that won't change despite the graduation of the top three scorers from last year's team that finished 16-6.

"Our kids want to continue the success," said Red Hill coach Traci Gray, whose team has captured regional championships on five occasions in her nine seasons at the helm. "It's important that they have that attitude. We lost a lot. They know that. But we have the same philosophy every year - it's not a sprint, but a marathon. It's not how you start, but how you finish."

The cupboard isn't bare, as three players who saw significant playing time a year ago are back.

The focal point will be 6-0 sophomore Jamesha Western, who made great strides while playing in 19 games a year ago, averaging 4.2 points a contest.

"She's worked really hard and she'll go as far as she wants to go (as a basketball player)," said Gray, whose team will host Louisville-North Clay to open the season this evening. "It depends on how hard she wants to work. She has the ability to dominate a game, but she's still a sophomore and I'm sure that will show from time to time."

A pair of returning seniors, both of whom started a year ago, are expected to be team leaders. Heather Perry, 5-6, who averaged 4.0 points a game, and Maran Tennis, 5-5, who averaged 2.0 points a game, are expected to be steadying influences.

"You have to have great leadership, but I'll have a better idea at Christmas time," Gray said. "Right now, it's up in the air. I'm waiting to see how they handle things when we run into a little adversity."

The only other senior is 5-6 Taylor Heath, who played in 11 games last season and is expected to contributed off the bench. The team's only junior is 5-6 Morgan Inyart, whose status is currently uncertain due to a knee injury.

Four other sophomores, 6-1 Alexis Thacker, 5-6 Macee Weiss, 5-5 Cheyanne Moan and 5-5 Leah Ramsaran, are all penciled in to the plan.

Moan played in 13 games last season, while Thacker took the floor in 10. Weiss played in seven games and Ramsaran six. None averaged more than 0.3 points an outing.

The Lady Salukis gave up just 33.7 points a game last season, and Gray says defense is always a strength.

"I feel like at times our post play will be pretty good," she said. "But for as many years as I've been here, we've prided ourselves on defense. We'll have to continue that, and have to continue to show a lot of discipline at the offensive end, to have a good season."

Five freshmen, 5-6 Olivia Powden, 5-6 Karissa McIntire, 5-6 Emma Heath, 5-6 Maddie Liberman and 5-3 Rosie Aguirre, round out the roster. All are expected to play almost exclusively at the junior varsity level at this point.

RHHS schedule

Nov. 19 LOUISVILLE-N.CLAY, 6:15 p.m.

Nov. 21 Lawrenceville, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 2 Olney*, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 5 CUMBERLAND*, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 9 Flora*, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 12 MARSHALL*. 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 16 Edwards County*, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 19 NEWTON*, 6:15 p.m.

Jan. 9 Palestine*, 6:15 p.m.

Jan. 13 LAWRENCEVILLE*, 6:15 p.m.

Jan. 15-22 LIC Tournament

Jan. 27 ROBINSON*, 6:15 p.m.

Jan. 30 OBLONG*, 6:15 p.m.

Feb. 6 Casey*, 6:15 p.m.

*-LIC game


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