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LEOPOLD - With six letter winners - including the leading scorer and rebounder - returning, Perry Central's girls basketball team has some experience.
But "our size and our bench" concern second-year coach Sarah Spindler. "If we get in foul trouble, we're not going to have a lot of options."
The Commodores will have 14 players, including seven freshmen, dressed for their varsity and JV season openers at Corydon Friday.
Rachael Rayford, who played enough last year as a freshman to letter, will be sidelined about two more weeks with a stress fracture in her foot. And two players, including returning starter Kayla Miller (torn anterior cruciate ligament), are sideline for the season with injuries.
Leading the returnees is 6-foot senior center Alie Schroeder. She averaged 10.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, both team highs for last year's 8-13 team.
She hit 45.7 percent from the field and 68.1 percent at the free-throw line.
"We do have some height with Alie," said Spindler. "But our only other player over 5-8 is Megan Hedinger (a 5-11 freshman, who is expected to play mainly JV)."
Melissa Hahus, a 5-4 senior who averaged 5.1 points and hit a team-high 33.3 percent from three-point range, returns as one starting guard.
Audra Gehlhausen, a 5-foot-5 senior who averaged 4.8 points as the top reserve last year, will be the other starting guard.
Ashley Brown, a 5-foot-5 senior, and Hilarie Hahus, a sophomore who has played mostly guard in the past, will be the starting forwards Friday, though Hahus will play mostly outside in basically a three-guard lineup.
Rayford, another sophomore guard, will be a candidate for a starting spot when she is healthy, Spindler said. "She played awesome at camp this summer."
Three freshmen - Lavina Schwartz, Katie Schwartz and Deidra Dickerson - will "get varsity time right away," said Spindler.
The 5-8 Dickerson and 5-6 Katie Schwartz could give the Commodores' frontline more size. And Lavina Schwartz is an outstanding ball-handler, said Spindler.
With several guards in the lineup, ball-handling "may be one of the areas we're better in this year," said Spindler. "Last year we had so many turnovers."
She expects Melissa Hahus to be the main ball-handler until Rayford returns; then "they'll split" that duty.
Lavina Schwartz could be the main ball-handler when she's in the game, freeing Melissa Hahus to play the wing.
Hilarie Hahus, Gehlhausen and Melissa Hahus are the team's top outside shooters, said Spindler.
With the ultra-quick Rayford sidelined, Lavina Schwartz is the team's best driver "without a doubt," said Spindler.
As for low-post scoring threats, "Alie is really it," said Spindler. "And maybe Deidra Dickerson."
Spindler plans to run a motion offense but "we're going to try to get it inside to Alie all we can."
Spindler said the team's rebounding needs to improve. "I expect Alie to always get her share, but she's going to have to have more help."
Spindler wants to play mostly man-to-man defense, though the lack of size and depth means "we may have to switch" to a zone at times, she said.
She expects Rayford to be a defensive stopper when she returns and said the top defensive player now may be Gehlhausen. "She's smart and fairly quick."
Spindler said the team's defense "looks fairly good against the JV. They do understand the concepts."
She said Crawford County, which was ranked in the top 10 in Class 2A most of last year and returns its top two players, is the favorite in the PLAC. "I don't see anybody beating them.
"I think we'll be somewhere in the middle. We just have so many unknowns."
Crawford County moved to Class 3A this year, so Spindler thinks Forest Park is the favorite in the Class 2A sectional.
"We would have to have an awesome year to win it. But if we can learn to take care of the ball I think we can compete."