BOURBON — Graduation hit Triton girls basketball particularly hard last year.
The Lady Trojans only lost three players, but those three were all key playmakers with the squad. In particular, the loss of three-year leading scorer Hannah Wanemacher and another four-year holdover and last season’s assists and rebounds leader in Nicole Sechrist leaves some big gaps to be filled in this year’s lineup. But head coach Adam Heckaman is embracing the unknown.
“The past several seasons we have always had a featured scorer — Hannah Wanemacher, Kylie Mason, Taylor Hatfield, Shana Anderson — surrounded by other players that scored when teams focused too much attention on our scorer. This season we will be looking at a lot of different options for scoring and will be searching for our featured scorer. I think that featured scorer could change night in and night out for us, which could turn into a positive for us,” explained Heckaman.
Triton’s most experienced returning player, Whytnie Miller is back for her junior season after tearing her ACL in the final game of the 2017-18 campaign. The Trojans will lean on her experience, but it’s been a long road back for Miller, who was still awaiting clearance by her surgeon through the fall golf season.
“Whytnie has been cleared to play and is working very hard to work herself back into game shape and speed. It will take her some time, but we will definitely be looking for her to provide a spark for us on both the defensive and offensive ends this season,” Heckaman said.
Sophomore Jaela Faulkner returns at the point after a promising freshman season. Senior guard Delanie Groves is back in the backcourt alongside her, and the Trojans will need to rely on her perimeter shooting to help make up for the loss of Wanemacher’s production, while fellow upperclassman Chelsea Johnson is back in the front court after polishing her game in the offseason, and Heckaman is hoping the 5’11” forward can give her team some interior offense in 2018-19.
“Jaela will be our primary ball-handler and will be looked upon to help create a lot for her teammates. We need Delanie to be our consistent threat from the perimeter this season to try to make up for some of the perimeter scoring we will miss with Hannah Wanemacher graduating. Chelsea Johnson has worked very hard in the offseason, and we are hoping to see a lot of production out of her in the paint this season,” he said. “We do return a lot of guard play, but we graduated a lot of guard scoring with Hannah and Nicole. That is a void we will be looking to fill with a variety of players this season.”
Along with those four returning letterwinners, the Trojans will see a number of players making the jump from primarily JV play last winter. Juniors Alyxa Viers and Jessica Soriano, and sophomores Lexia Hostrawser, Abby Viers, Jaelyn Bules and Emma Hepler all add to the mix. As always, defense will be key for the squad, which averaged less than 39 points per game last season but held opponents down well enough to finish 10-13. There’s going to be some rebuilding in the early going for the team, which opens its season opposite John Glenn Tuesday night.
“With the loss of our seniors we lost our top three rebounders, two of our top three scorers, 95 percent of our three point shooting, our assists leader, and so much more from a leadership standpoint,” explained Heckaman. “Those are all things that can not just be replaced over the summer. It will take time for our younger kids to learn their roles and to learn what their strengths and weaknesses are in a varsity game, and we will be searching for a leader to emerge out of it all.”