WEST ALEXANDRIA — As Shawn Murphy heads into his first season at the helm of the Twin Valley South girls basketball program he has only two varsity players returning.
Despite the lack of returning experience, Murphy is ready to get the Panthers back to winning ways.
“One must look back a decade ago to see when the last time TVS experienced a winning record,” Murphy said. “That was the 2010-2011 season in which JV/Assistant Coach Adelee Small was playing her senior year. With that said getting the ladies back to experiencing winning records is a focus for me and my staff. Getting the ladies to believing they can win and building confidence is a priority.”
The Panthers lost five varsity players from a year ago, but have four seniors, a junior, five sophomores and four freshman in the program.
“Five varsity players graduated last year, leaving only two returning varsity players in Makiah Newport and Abby McGuire, who are seniors,” Murphy said. “I am continuing to learn what values each of the 14 athletes hold as they continue to progress under the new leadership. We have 14 players and all have opportunity in front of them depending on their progress of earning varsity time and experience. Freshman Jordan Ritchie has been doing a nice job handling the basketball in the guard position as well as being disruptive on defense. Freshman Clara Meyers is in her second year playing the game and is showing a lot of promise. As I stated earlier each of these ladies whether on the varsity or JV roster are continuing their development so it will be interesting to see their growth and how they can help us win games. They understand that to stay on the court they must put forth their best effort they are each capable of on defense. We preach playing with “heart and tenacity” on defense.”
“McGuire is a returning starter will be our shooting forward. I expect a lot out of her from the perimeter and will lean on Abby for both her leadership and varsity experience. Abby averaged five points per game last season. Abby will be a 3-point threat for our opposition. She really wants this team to be the best that they can be. She is a spirited player and has proven to be thus far my most vocal player. My hope is that will become contagious with her teammates.” Murphy said.
Newport was the WOAC soccer player of the year.
“Makiah is our lead point guard and will be responsible for leading our offense. We will also be leaning on her varsity experience to help lead her teammates in a positive manner. Makiah is a difference maker on the court and my suspicion is that she will lead our team in assists. She is a very unselfish player. Makiah averaged seven points last season,” Murphy said.
“Pearle Rollyson (Sr.) is a good spirited player that plays an integral part in our “Keeping it Real” theme. She is a good defensive player and strong on the boards. Pearle did see some varsity time last season and we’re looking forward to having Pearle contribute as much as possible,” Murphy said.
“Brooklynn Letner (So) continues to learn under this new leadership but providing tenacious effort on defense and gets a lot of deflections. She is showing her natural ability to play this game,” Murphy said.
“Ellie Webb is probably my biggest surprise player, my lone junior Ellie will be contributing a lot for us on the offensive end especially. She is offering a spark to this team. Ellie did see some court time last year playing varsity. Keep your eye on Webb. She’s a different player than she was last year – in a great way,” Murphy said.
“Makenzie Wise (Soph) is a fierce competitor has the nickname Matador for a reason. She will be playing in the 2 and 3 spot. This is a player that has put work into improving her shot in the off season, she is improving fast and has been very consistent in what she offers,” Murphy said.
“Jordan Ritchie (Fr) will be seeing both JV and Varsity time as we continue to build on her confidence. Jordan has been trusted by me in playing the 1 spot,” Murphy said.
“Maci Arndts (Fr) will see some varsity time and is an aggressive player that is also a quick learner with our sets. She’s probably my most quiet player, but don’t let her quietness fool you. Just want her to be more vocal on defense because she is indeed aggressive and not intimidated by bigger players,” Murphy said.
“Brionna Abner (Sr) did not play last year so she is a welcome site by the coaching staff and her teammates. Brionna is our center and does a great job of doing what she is asked to do. It’s unfortunate that we only have her for one year,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he hopes to bring a winning attitude to the program.
”The goal is to help shape a winning culture where we play hard, play smart, and play together. We hold our players accountable in being better than they were the day before. Get one percent better each day,” he said.
He said he sees Tri-Village, Arcanum, Preble Shawnee and Bradford being the teams to beat in the newly formed Western Ohio Athletic Conference.
”The newly formed Western Ohio Athletic Conference (WOAC) replaces the Cross County Conference (CCC) and is comprised of 12 teams. While all of the teams we play are going to be competitive opponents, Tri-Village, Arcanum, Preble Shawnee, and Bradford will be at the top of the conference,” he said.
Murphy added he’s glad fans can be in the stands this season.
“I’m very excited to get back to having a normal season from start to finish with fans in the stands and players not being required to wear masks,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting to see this team grow together. One of our strengths is our quickness and eagerness to be coached under the new leadership. We plan on using our quickness this season as an advantage. I’m excited for the opportunity that these ladies have this season. I wish I had an additional year to work with our 4 seniors as they’ve been, like each of our players, a joy to work with in their journey of learning the evolving game.”
South opened the season with a 51-2 win over Northridge on Saturday, Nov. 20. Wise led the team with 19 points and five steals. Webb added 12 points and four rebounds. Abner and Ritchie added eight and six respectively.
South (1-0) was scheduled to host Franklin-Monroe on Tuesday, Nov. 23 and will entertain Milton-Union on Monday, Nov. 29.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr