West Holmes girls basketball has talent but is short on experience

West Holmes girls basketball has talent but is short on experience

Image Credit: Sara Sponseller Uhl

West Holmes’ girls basketball team graduated three of its top-four scorers from last year, but that doesn’t mean the Lady Knights are short on talent heading into the 2022-23 season.

West Holmes will lean on its five returning letter winners, including one who hasn’t played in a varsity game, to help guide its bevy of unproven players who will split time between varsity and junior varsity this season.

“We lost three kids who were all starters last year, and all had varsity experience coming into last season,” said Lady Knights coach Lindsy Snyder, who begins her sixth season with a 74-45 overall record and 44-15 Ohio Cardinal Conference mark. “We have less kids with varsity experience this year. We have four kids who are returning letter winners who have seen the varsity floor. After that, none of those kids have seen any playing time. We have a lot of kids this year who are going to play a couple of JV quarters and some varsity quarters as well, so we really right now only have six full-time varsity kids, and the other kids are going to play some of both. That’s a big difference from last year.

“We’re trying to manage that and get our kids lots of experience and get our starters some subs as well. That’s a big difference from last year because we basically had a JV team and a varsity team. We dressed a few kids, but not a lot of kids played both. That’s going to be a big adjustment for us.”

Senior Ella McMillen is West Holmes’ top returning scorer. The forward/guard averaged 9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season.

“(McMillen) is going to be a leader by example and also needs to be a vocal leader for us as well,” Snyder said.

Junior guards Allie McMillen and Keegan Uhl were both key pieces for the Lady Knights last year too. McMillen averaged 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and a team-high 3.4 assists while Uhl averaged 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

“(Uhl) can really shoot it when she gets hot, so we’re looking for some big shots out of her,” Snyder said. “Allie McMillen is great defensively. (She) just makes plays, deflections, steals (and) is huge for us on the defensive end, as well as Keegan. Her and Keegan can really get up and pressure (opposing teams) and cause some issues.”

Junior forward/guard Chloe Patten is another returning letter winner, but she didn’t play last season because of an injury.

“(Patten) would have received a letter last year (if she hadn’t been hurt),” Snyder said. “We treated her as a student coach. She’s a great rebounder and (will be) trying to figure out how to get back into the flow of things.”

Junior post Nealie Fair is the other returning letter winner. Fair will split time at the five position with sophomore Aveona Yoder.

“We need (Fair and Yoder) to get some post-ups, some easy buckets, some offensive rebounds and be a post presence inside for us,” Snyder said.

Snyder expects her team to pressure opposing offenses this season, which she said will be one of their biggest strengths.

“We have some kids who can get up and pressure,” she said. “They can play the full length of the court. That’s where we’re looking to create some chaos for some other teams and turn teams over and create some easy buckets in transition.”

West Holmes also has several players who can push the tempo when needed.

“We have some really good passers in the full court,” Snyder said. “We can get out and run and throw it ahead and finish around the rim. We’re looking to score some easy buckets that way.”

Putting all the pieces together and getting them to play as one cohesive unit is going to take some time, according to Snyder.

“We have a lot of skilled players, but right now we’re trying to figure out how to get all five kids on the court on the same page,” she said. “I think that’s going to be a learning experience for us, and hopefully we figure that out shortly.”

The Lady Knights won their second consecutive Ohio Cardinal Conference title last season, finishing with an 11-1 league mark and a 20-4 overall record. Winning another conference championship remains one of their top goals for this season.

“Wooster is going to be a really strong contender,” Snyder said. “We split with them last year. Mansfield Senior is going to be really skilled. They have some really good guards. New Philadelphia, with them joining the league, also will be up there. I think there are four teams competing for that top spot.

“I think it’s going to be a tough league. You’re not going to have any down nights where we’re expecting to win and don’t have to play our best. I think with those teams, you have to show up every night and play your best if we want to win the league and go undefeated in the league.”

West Holmes will begin the season at Dover on Nov. 19.