By Chris Chaney
The New Richmond Lady Lions were one of the most well-rounded teams in the area a year ago, going 17-5 overall and 8-2 in the Southern Buckeye Conference en route to a sectional semifinal berth, but how the team stack will stack up this year is anybody’s guess.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” sixth-year head coach Brad Hatfield said. “We only have three varsity players returning, but I still expect to have a good season just because I have kids that will work hard and play as a team.”
Of the three varsity players returning, Hatfield will have the luxury of one of the most dominant players in the post that New Richmond has ever seen in junior Josie Buckingham.
Buckingham, a 6-foot-5 center, averaged a double-double last year with 15.5 points per game and 10.3 rebounds. Couple those stats with 5.5 blocks per game and Buckingham has the opportunity and ability to affect every game she plays in.
“Josie Buckingham is one of the best post players in the state,” Hatfield said. “She’s going to be a really important piece for us. She gets a lot of rebounds, blocks a lot of shots and scores a lot of points.”
Buckingham’s inside presence will be complimented with a backcourt run by junior Bailey Workman.
Workman averaged 6.8 points per game, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Her court vision and speed present a match up problem for opponents and her ability to get to the basket tends to put the other team’s post players in foul trouble.
“(Workman) is a reliable scorer and she’s explosive,” Hatfield said. “She’s really good with the ball in her hands and compliments Josie well.”
The third returning starter for the Lady Lions is sophomore Tina Lawrence.
“Tina was one of the best defensive players in the league,” Hatfield said. “She is really important for us when we try to handle pressure defense.”
Lawrence’s impact isn’t always evident in the box score, but last season she saw solid minutes and contributed 2.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Hatfield will need some players who didn’t see a lot of playing time last year on the varsity level to step into some important roles that were left open by graduating seniors Sarah Shoemaker, Courtney Grogan and Mikaela Rupp. The trio combined for just over 17 points and nine rebounds a game. Shoemaker and Grogan were both All-League selections.
Cassidy Martin and Riley Deweese will be the only seniors on the roster and Hatfield hopes that they will be able to provide some leadership for the younger players on the roster.
Hatfield expects that Western Brown should be the team to beat in the American Division, but he can’t find an easy win on his schedule.
“Everyone (in the SBC) is above average,” he said. “I don’t see any weak teams, so we should always have a good test.”
The Lady Lions season begins in earnest with their first league game coming on Nov 29 against Goshen.