According to fifth-year coach Bob Scott, the most improved aspect of the Olentangy Orange girls basketball team is its camaraderie.
The Pioneers feature just five players who saw varsity action last year. So, if they’re going to be successful – it’s going to have to happen as a unit.
“I like our attitude – they’ve got a great attitude,” Scott said. “They hustle, they play hard and we’re trying to play as good a defense as we possibly can. We play together as a team. I told them that nobody has any agendas. They’re not worried about who’s going to play in college or who’s going to average 20 points or anything.”
Scott has struggled to get wins in his first four years at Orange, going 30-62. He went 166-122 in 13 seasons at Big Walnut, including a 141-64 mark over his final nine seasons while reaching the district semifinal round in eight of those years.
“I remember years and years ago when I first started at Big Walnut — looking at the talent there and looking at the talent here – the skill and the talent level (here) is better,” he said. “There are more kids that can do more things than what I ever had there in my first couple of years. But, the level of competition is a lot better.”
Orange has three seniors on a roster of 10 – Lauren Perrone, Maddie Erickson and Madi Felchlin.
“(Perrone’s) confidence has grown,” Scott said. “She plays hard and she’ll do whatever it is that you ask her to do.”
Perrone believes the team has worked hard to come together in the offseason whether it’s cheering each other on during a water break or other forms of motivation.
“Our coaches have been drilling into us that we need a lot of enthusiasm,” Perrone said. “We’ve started to incorporate a clay panda for the player of the week and we all get really excited about that. Really our enthusiasm is what we’re focusing on as well as fundamentals.”
Erickson will make the move to point guard after playing off the ball in the past.
Juniors Anna Grabau and Riley Duffy are key returnees from last year’s squad. Grabau is the team’s top returning scorer (6.7 points per game).
“(Grabau) is kind of a stat-stuffer,” Scott said. “She may not always score a lot, but she’ll have some games where she’s close to 10 points. She’ll get rebounds, she’ll get steals … she’s capable of doing a little bit of everything. She’s one of those all-around kids.”
Juniors Madi Riley, Joy Gimei and Camille Barron and sophomores Reece Miller and Brooke Thompson are newcomers to the varsity level.
The goals aren’t lofty for Perrone and the Pioneers. She wants to start with snapping the team’s 12-game OCC-Buckeye losing streak.
“I really want to win (an OCC game),” Perrone said. “My goal is over .500 in OCC as well as the season.”
“That would be optimal,” Scott said. “I set realistic goals. Our first goal is to win half of our games. That’d be very successful given the league we’re in. We just gotta put ourselves in position to win (some close) games. That’s all you can ask for.”
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