With a new head coach at the helm, 10 excited and mostly experienced players and a goal to make some noise in the post season, the Paden City Lady Wildcats are set to begin the 2013-14 season.
"We're excited to get the season underway," said first year head coach David Riggle. "The girls have been working really hard and have come together as a team. They played well in summer league and I think we'll be surprising a few people once competition begins."
Coach Riggle and assistant coach Alan Miller will mentor 10 young ladies on the basketball team this year: two seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.
The Paden City Lady Wildcats took second place in their own Lady Wildcat Christmas Classic Tournament last weekend at Bob Burton Gymnasium. The Ladies in Green and White defeated Valley and fell to Wood County Christian at the tournament.
Expected to lead the team on and off the court for the Green and White will be senior players Myah Charkawi, 5'3", and Katie Shreves, 5'3". Charkawi will most likely hold down a guard position but will fluctuate between that position and forward in the majority of the games while Shreves will be looked at as a strong forward.
"Our seniors have experience," the coach said. "They've both played before and both are dependable in clutch situations. Myah especially is versatile and is a good leader on the floor to the rest of the team."
Juniors Hannah Stanley, 5'3", and Kayla Hizer, 5'4", look to hold down starting positions for the 'Cats, Stanley in a guard position while Hizer will put her speed and quickness to work at the forward slot.
"Hannah has one of the most consistent three-point shots on the team," Riggle said. "She's an offensive threat that we'll go to quite often and Hizer's quickness and aggressiveness is an overall plus at whatever position she plays, on offense or defense."
Juniors Kayla Barker, 5' and Jennifer Dahms, 5'5", will fill roles as a point guard and forward for the team with each looking to move into the starting line-up at any time throughout the season.
Both sophomores on the team, Taylor Cosper, 5'3", and Cydney Blatt 5'8", saw plenty of playing time last year as freshmen and will bring a more experienced game to the court, Cosper as the leading point guard and Blatt as a tried and true strong center.
"Taylor is a perfect point guard for us," Riggle said. "She's a knowledgeable player and makes very good and smart decisions with the basketball. She's reads defenses well and will play a key role in any success we see this year."
"The only thing Cydney is missing at the center position is size, but she's aggressive and wants the ball and that's who we want in the middle."
Chelsea Baker, 5'5", and Darien Ritchie, 5'7", are the only true rookies joining the team this season as freshmen. Riggle says either can work their way into the line-up this season. "They're both contributing and working hard, and right now, if I had to choose, I'd say Darien will likely be our sixth man."
In his first year as head coach, Riggle says he is expecting big things from the Lady Wildcats this season. "We don't have a lot of size, but we're quick so we're planning on running a fast paced offense and an aggressive defense. These girls are scrappy and so far have showed some great potential."
Mentioning the lack of size as a weakness his team will have to overcome throughout the season regardless of the competition they face, the coach said he believes the Lady Wildcats strength will lie with the talent on the team.
"We have so many versatile, talented players," he said. "Everybody can play and they all play hard. We're expecting to do well in the Hometown Invitational Tournament, our own Christmas Tournament and still be in the running come Sectional and Regional time. We're not going to sit back and let the game come to us, we're going out there after it."
The Lady Wildcats began their season on Dec. 3 at Hundred. The team hosted the Lady Wildcat Christmas Classic on Dec. 6-7.