SYRACUSE – Vanilla was the expectation for the Wawasee girls basketball team entering last season and vanilla is what was produced. An inexperienced and very young Lady Warrior team struggled to find rhythm and consistency on the court in 2013 but Wawasee is planning on making a lot more noise this season.
Lady Warrior basketball has traditionally been one of the marquee programs at Wawasee, making last season’s 2-17 record a large obscurity on an otherwise decorated past. The win total was the program’s lowest since 1980.
Head coach Kem Zolman knew the season would be rough as he had no seniors and just one junior to lead a group of talented, but unpolished sophomores and freshmen. Zolman will once again have a young group, but one that is certainly more confident and prepared for the obstacles that the season will present.
“We’re still young this year, but we’re experienced,” Zolman said of his team. “That’s the difference this year, we’re more experienced and that’s going to play a big part. We’re still young and there will still be times when we’ll be looking at things and scratching our head but that’s part of having a young team. We have a better mix this year and that will help us out.”
A big ingredient in that mixture will be Elizabeth Jackson. The team’s lone senior has been a staple in the program the past few years and stepped up big as a leader in 2013. Zolman knows the presence of Jackson in the locker room and on the court in a great asset for the team.
“She’ll be with us now for four years,” Zolman began when asked about Jackson.”That’s always, in my mind and in my heart, a very special position to be in with a player. In today’s age, in girls basketball, having a player for four years is not as common as it used to be. To have her here for her fourth year, she gives the rest of the team that knowledge of what varsity basketball is supposed to be like.”
Zolman would go on to talk about other players that will be bringing that varsity knowledge to the table, most notably Kylee Rostochak. The junior will be a third-year starter for the Lady Warriors and showed in 2013 that she has the ability to take over games on both offense and defense.
Wawasee will continue to be defensively sound and will look to improve offensive production. The Lady Warriors only allowed opponents to eclipse the 50-point benchmark in five games during 2013 but only hit that threshold once themselves.
Junior Katlyn Kennedy (5’11”) and sophomore Aubrey Schmeltz (6’0″) will hope to add an inside presence to Wawasee’s offensive attack. Sophomore Hannah Haines along with juniors Erin Wiktorowski and Allissa Flores will all play big roles for the team and move-in Kaley Wood, a 5’8″ junior, will be another welcome addition.
Zolman noted that this is the first season the program has had in several years where the team will not be relying so heavily on one or more freshmen to produce at the varsity level, just three freshmen are the on the official varsity roster. The ability to lean on the upperclassmen, especially the six-player junior class, will be a nice change and is a big step in building more depth throughout the program.
The newest chapter for Lady Warrior basketball will begin Tuesday night against Fairfield. Varsity tip is set for 7:30 p.m. at Wawasee High School.