When there are only 15 players in the entire program, as is the case for first-year Buckeye Valley girls basketball coach Travis Stout, you’d think those 15 sets of shoulders would have a lot riding on them.
Stout, though, doesn’t want his players to try to do too much this season. For the Barons, it’s about doing the little things a little better each and every day.
“Two messages that have really resonated with the girls are, ‘get 1-2 percent better every single day, that’s all we’re asking’ … and the idea that, ‘we have to be great at the things that require zero talent,’” Stout said.
“For example, talking on defense, playing hard, being coachable, rebounding and staying focused. Those are some of the areas that anyone can be great in, and they help support the more complex areas of the game that we will also need to do well.
“If we can come in and make small improvements every day, we will get to where we want to be.”
Seniors Tess Hughes and Morgan Scowden headline the list of returners. Both were starters last season and, according to Stout, have set the tone in offseason workouts.
“Both were two of our hardest workers in the offseason, and both were chosen by their teammates as captains,” the coach said. “Tess is an inside player with strength while Morgan plays outside and can score in a number of ways. Both of them also bring a lot of intangibles you can’t coach, and help lead by example.”
Others who Stout expects to see time in the starting lineup include seniors Alaina Radcliffe and Lisa Leienberger — another pair of captains.
“Alaina is a very strong and versatile player who can help us inside and out,” he said. “She can be a tough defender in the right situation and Lisa does the dirty work and can be a lock-down on-ball defender.”
Hannah Cowan and Cami Crawford are the only juniors on the team and sophomores Dani Grether and Reilly Taylor, a pair the coaching staff is pretty high on, will also contribute at the varsity level.
“They’re fundamentally sound for sophomores, and bring additional skill sets to the game that complement our projected starters well, which is important,” Stout said. “You always want to be able to bring in a different look off the bench. These two work very hard, are great kids and very coachable, and will help us out a lot this season.”
The Barons are athletic, with good size and quickness. That’s obviously a strength. A weakness steams from the aforementioned lack of depth.
“One of our concerns is depth,” Stout said. “We will need everything all 15 of our players have to make it through the season. With that being said, we are extremely confident in the 15 players we have, and believe we have the habits in place to have a good season.”
Buckeye Valley will again take aim at what looks to be a pretty solid Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.
“You look at programs like Pleasant, North Union and River Valley who have had success in the league as of late … you know they’re going to be there at the end,” Stout said. “Obviosuly, we’d love to be up there at the end of the season, and we believe we can be competitive in the league if we keep doing the things we have been taught and work hard.”
Buckeye Valley opens the 2017-18 season tonight, set to take on host Linden McKinley. MOAC play starts Friday against visiting River Valley.