Crestview’s girls basketball team has grown accustomed to wearing a bull’s-eye in both the Northwest Conference and the district tournament.
That’s not going to change this season, not with the impressive amount of experience and talent the Knights bring to the table for the 2013-14 run.
However, the NWC is deeper and more balanced this season, meaning there are more than a few squads capable of knocking off the Knights.
A year ago, five NWC teams — Ada, Allen East, Bluffton, Crestview and Lincolnview — finished .500 or better with the Knights claiming their 13th NWC title with a 9-0 record. All five of these teams should be just as — if not more — competitive this year, while the teams that didn’t fare as well a year ago should be greatly improved this season.
Crestview returns 10 letterwinners, including the trio of junior guard/forward Lindsey Motycka (11.1 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game), junior guard Mac Riggenbach (10.8 ppg) and sophomore center/forward Emily Bauer (11.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg).
According to coach Greg Rickard, who enters his 24th season, the Knights should be a strong rebounding and perimeter scoring team. But the team looks to improve its defense and needs to cut down on turnovers from last year, when the Knights lost in the district finals.
Lincolnview and Ada were both Crestview’s biggest threats a year ago as they each finished with 7-2 NWC records. Ada returns a solid crew with six letterwinners led by juniors Tori Wyss and Alexis Amburgey. The Bulldogs will be balanced and have momentum from a strong summer.
Lincolnview, meanwhile, looks to continue the momentum it built from a strong 18-6 campaign last season. The Lancers will feature athleticism and speed as they look to spread the floor to score on offense and harass the opposition by creating turnovers on defense.
Allen East (13-9, 6-3 last year) has an experienced group, highlighted by senior guard Kaycee Rowe and junior forward Carly Clum.
Bluffton was 12-12 a year ago (5-4 NWC) but looks to improve this year with five seniors on the varsity roster. Senior guard Paige Buroker is back after averaging 7.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 2.1 apg a year ago to claim second team All-NWC. Senior guard Sarah Schriner led the team in scoring with 8.8 ppg last year.
Overall, the Pirates are deep with 14 varsity players.
Teams such as Spencerville and Delphos Jefferson struggled a year ago, but should see improvement this season. Both teams are more experienced and have a better understanding of the game.
Columbus Grove enters the year with new coach Brian Schroeder. The Bulldogs have a solid mix of experience and talented underclassmen.
Paulding finished last year 5-18 overall and 0-9 in the conference but has a solid core returning with five letterwinners determined to turn the program around.