SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor
After an 0-22 finish during the 2015-2016 basketball season, Van Wert made strides and ended last season 6-17. Now, the Lady Cougars are looking for more improvement during the 2017-2018 season.
Head coach Rob Adams was hired shortly before the start of last season, but he believes things are going much better entering year number two.
“Having just two weeks to prepare for a full season in 2016-2017 was extremely tough,” Adams explained. “We’ve now had one year to increase our pace in the game, and we are more mature, more aggressive and it is showing both on and off the court. Our confidence is gaining strength.”
There is good reason for optimism, as the Lady Cougars have four returning starters and two additional letter winners.
The returning starters are 5-5 senior guard Cassidy Meyers, 5-7 junior guard/forward Reagan Priest, 5-5 senior forward Alexis Rupert and 6-0 junior forward/center Abby Jackson. In addition, 5-5 junior guard/forward Sierra Shaffer and 6-1 forward/center Jamison Clouse lettered last season.
5-4 junior guard/forward Alexis Metz, 5-4 sophomore guard Caylee Phillips, 5-6 sophomore guard Jerica Huebner and 5-8 sophomore forward/center Paige Moonshower are expected to contribute as well.
Adams said while his team is youthful, the Lady Cougars have speed and quickness, team unity and depth.
He also noted Van Wert will face some very strong non-conference opponents.
“With a non league schedule consisting of Ottoville, Coldwater, Fort Recovery, Lincolnview, Crestview, Wayne Trace and St Johns, we will be tested every single night,” Adams said.
The coach also believes the Western Buckeye League will be tough from top to bottom.
“The WBL will be a very tough conference with a lot of teams competing for the top spot,” Adams stated. “Wapakoneta, Bath and Ottawa-Glandorf will be very strong. However, I truly feel it will be the most competitive league we’ve had in some years.”
The Lady Cougars opened their season Friday night with a 90-46 loss at Ottoville. Van Wert will play four more on the road, before opening the home portion of the schedule December 14 against Wapakoneta.