by Jim Manion | Correspondent
Streetsboro head girls basketball coach Allison Carey is very optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We have five returning letterwinners and I think with them growing up and maturing we are going to be a lot better,” said Carey, who is 7-35 during her two years with the Rockets.
Last season, Streetsboro finished 4-17 overall after losing a 36-27 decision to Canfield in a Division II sectional contest. The Rockets finished 3-11 in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.
Streetsboro lost four players to graduation. They are guards Rachel Kolke and Andi Landgraf, guard/forward Colleen Rimmel and post player Mercedes Oliver.
The Rockets do have five letterwinners back in the lineup.
They are sophomore post player Shania Williams, senior point guard Megan Densmore, senior guards Mikaela Dombrowski and Shannon Blondeaux and forward Alison Targosky.
Streetsboro, which had trouble scoring last season, hopes to have more offensive firepower this season.
“We do have some pretty solid post players, so we are going to try to get the ball inside,” Carey said.
“We also surround them with some pretty good shooters,” Carey said. “If teams try to pack it low on us, we hope to kick it out. I think our offensive threat comes from everywhere, not just one person.”
Densmore is expected to be the starting point guard.
“She is a great ball-handler and she is a three-year letterwinner,” said Carey. “She has such a great attitude and works really hard on her game.”
Dombrowski is probably the best shooter on the team, according to her coach.
“She can catch and shoot from almost anywhere on the floor and I am confident with her doing just that,” said Carey.
Blondeax also should be a major contributor in the backcourt.
“Blondeaux is one of the heart-and-soul girls of this team,” said Carey. “She has really been improving her shooting. She sees the floor really well and makes good decisions.”
Also pushing for time at the guard spot is sophomore Taylor Tuma, who is getting the varsity exposure primarily because of her defense.
“I think Taylor could be one of the best defensive players in the league,” said Carey.
The probable starters in the paint are the 5-foot-9 Williams and 5-11 Targosky.
“Those two girls are not afraid of contact,” said Carey. “They know how to battle down low, they get the ball on offense and rebounds and I expect a lot out of both.”
Targosky started out on the freshman team last season and jumped to the junior varsity within a couple weeks before dressing varsity midway through the season. Carey is looking forward to seeing continued improvement by Targosky.
“We have to develop some of our younger players,” she said. “We are looking at three sophomores to take on a bigger role. Since we are low with guard numbers, we would like to see a least one of them step up to the varsity by the end of the season.
“Makenzie Dombrowski and Kaela Howard are both very good point guards and Brooke Bolyard [guard] has greatly improved her shooting from last year. As a staff, we feel lucky to have so many sophomores with such promise.”
Also looking for time in the post is 5-9 junior Marra Woods.
“She is an extremely long player for being 5-9,” said Carey. “She treats rebounding like it is her job and really can take charge in the paint.”
While the offense struggled last season, defense, on the other hand, was not an issue.
“We pride ourselves every year on our defense,” said Carey. “We want to be in their face and man all over the court. Practice at Streetsboro begins and ends with defense every day.”
In the long run, the Rockets’ season will be determined by the play of their seniors.
“I believe our three senior leaders really bring out the best of this team,” said Carey. “They have three years of experience and are great leaders for the younger players. We are really looking forward to this season and expect to be competitive.”
Besides the three seniors, though, Streetsboro doesn’t have much varsity experience.
“We still are young and dress a lot of sophomores on varsity,” said Carey. “We’re going to see how these young girls can handle the pressure night in and out. There is a big tempo change when you step on the varsity floor.”
Carey’s varsity assistant is Chip Bittercuffer, who played at Auburn University (Ala.). The JV coach is Brittany Stockdale.
Ravenna easily won the Metro Division title last season and is the favorite again this season.
“I know Ravenna graduated several top players, but they will still be in the mix,” said Carey. “Norton should also be good. We are hoping teams overlook us and we can sneak up on some of those teams.”
The Rockets will complete their second year in the Metro Division before returning to the County Division next year when the PTC is reduced from a total of 16 teams to 14 teams.
Streetsboro is scheduled to make its season opener in Garrettsville. The Rockets are set to play PTC rival James A. Garfield Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m.