LEWISBURG — “We can only improve this year.”
That’s how Jessica Cherry, now in her third year as the head coach of Tri-County North’s girls’ basketball program, sees the upcoming season.
Last year, North was 1-22. Cherry believes the future looks bright and this year will be a vast improvement over last season.
“Our goal is to win at least eight games. That’s huge,” she said.
Cherry is looking at three returning seniors to help lead the change: Sara Harris, Chelsey Strawser and Addison Pahl. The Panthers also return three starters, who include Harris, junior Cassi Harris (the team’s leading scorer last year), and sophomore Preston Lipinski.
Also returning are sophomores Shyanna Baker and Abby Rupp.
Cherry is looking for big things from newcomer Aubrey Stupp, who is a freshman, and Tri-Village transfer Megan Poling, who is a junior.
Rounding out the roster is freshman Emily Norris and junior Mady Prater.
Cherry said this year’s team will have more quickness and experience, even though they are still young. One of the team’s strengths, according to Cherry, will be its ability to put the ball in the basket from the outside.
“We’re definitely a more shooting team this year. We’re not going to be strong necessarily inside, but we have more of a shooting team this year,” she said.
Cherry said numbers are up in the program. They have 17 players this year and can field both varsity and junior varsity teams.
“As as whole, I just think we are building the program,” Cherry said. “It’s a huge difference.”
Cherry will get a chance early to see how her team reacts to adversity.
The Panthers open with six straight road games.
“I think that’s a huge disadvantage for us just because you’ve got the travel and you’ve got the ‘away’ atmosphere. I will be looking forward to bringing us back home,” she said. “That’s a lot. It’s pretty intense. It’s going to be tough on them, but at the same time it’s going to make them better.”
North split the first two road games, losing to Carlisle and beating Northridge. They were scheduled to travel to Brookville on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and Miami East on Thursday, Dec. 1.
The Panthers’ first home game will be against Eaton on Dec. 12.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Cherry said of the season.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.