Lady Pioneer cagers have nucleus back from D-II district runner-up squad


Jonathan Alder’s girls varsity hoop squad is pictured from left, front row, Kenzie Bushong, Melissa Walbom, Sophie Zawodny, Sydney Bourquin, Reggan Gray and Sydnie Bushong; second row, assistant coach Megan King, head coach Steve Cawley, Emma Shepherd, Ellie Heisler, Jillian Jakse, Grace Salzler, Madalynn Wilson, Abby Jones, Mary Ferrito and assistant coaches Alicia Ware and Steve McGhee. (Photo submitted)

Head coach Steve Cawley has plenty of veteran leadership as he begins his third season as Jonathan Alder’s girls basketball boss.
There are nine returning lettermen back from a team that posted an 18-7 overall record and finished 6-4 for third place in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division.
JA also finished as Division II district runners-up.
The Lady Pioneers have a trio of vets who scored in double figures last year.
Abby Jones led the way with a 14.1 per-game average, followed by Sydney Bourquin (12.0) and Melissa Walbom (10.4).
Additional lettermen and their scoring averages include Mary Ferrito (6.6), Jillian Jakse (5.3), Emma Shepherd (3.5), Sydnie Bushong (3.0), Sophie Zawodny (2.6) and Maddie Wilson (1.9).
McKenzie Bushong returns to the varsity team after sitting out the 2018-19 campaign with an injury.
She earned a varsity letter in 2017-18.
New to the varsity roster is Grace Salzler.
“We have plenty of varsity experience and a deep varsity roster this season,” said Cawley.
If there is any area of true concern, it’s keeping the team completely healthy.
Jakse, who is a solid rebounder and shooter from the 15-to-17 foot range, won’t be back until later this month after nursing a back injury.
Cawley said the Lady Pioneers will be helped this winter by not having to face a trio of CBC players who graduated last spring.
“It will be nice to not have to face the gauntlet of Mikala Morris from Kenton Ridge and Presley Griffitts and Corinne Thomas from Tecumseh four times total a year,” he said.
Those players may be gone, but Cawley added that Bellefontaine has several younger players moving up, which should make the Lady Chieftains a better squad.
The Lady Pioneers’ goals are basically what any coach hopes as a season progresses.
“Our focus is getting better on a daily basis,” said Cawley. “We also want to bring a conference championship back to Jonathan Alder girls basketball.
“If we do, it would be the first time in more than a decade.
“We also hope we can make a long tournament run.”

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