By: Andrew Korba
The Hiram College women's basketball team enters the 2015-16 season looking to take the next step forward. In head coach Emily Hays' first season, the Terriers made a return trip to the NCAC Tournament, finishing the season with a 7-19 mark and a 3-13 record in the NCAC.
Hays welcomes back nine letter winners from last season's team. She also welcomes a handful of newcomers, which gives Hiram a nice mixture of experience.
Here is how the Terriers will stack up in the 2015-16 campaign:
Hiram features a large group of guards, which features five returners from last season and a handful of newcomers.
Sophomores Kaylee Shockley (Uniontown, Ohio/Lake) and Allison Vannoy (Mantua, Ohio/Crestwood) both return. Last year, Shockley made her way into the starting lineup and finished fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 5.5 ppg. Vannoy played in a reserve role but finished as the team leader in assists with 86.
Junior Dana Perrotta (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) and senior Rachel Ellis (Newton Falls, Ohio/Newton Falls) both are back and will be the veterans of the group. Perrotta finished second on the team with 36 steals and third with 48 assists in 2014-15. Ellis has won three letters and will provide valuable leadership to the newcomers. Sophomore Katie Trushel (Chardon, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) also returns and will look to push for playing time.
A wealth of freshman also enter into the equation and will all look for playing time. The trio of first years include Erica Johnson (Salem, Ohio/West Branch), Carly Palgut (Wickliffe, Ohio/Wickliffe) and Brooke Seitz (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor Christian).
With a deep and talented group of guards, Hiram see plenty of competition for playing time.
The group of forwards is perhaps the most talented on the team. Three players return from last season's roster.
Junior Kayla Yost (Norwalk, Ohio/Perkins) returns after earning Honorable Mention All-NCAC honors. She posted career-bests in numerous categories and finished the season as the team leader in scoring (13.2 ppg), rebounding (8.5 rpg) and double-doubles (9). In addition to her all-conference accolade, Yost was also named NCAC Player of the Week twice during the season.
Senior Sierra Day (Salem, Ohio/Salem) and junior Brianne Goodrich (Chesterland, Ohio/West Geauga) also return for the Terriers. Day played in 24 contests and started 20 of them. She finished with a career-high average of 2.8 rpg. Goodrich appeared in 25 contests, averaging 5.9 ppg on .430 shooting. She finished third on the team with 25 steals.
Freshman Savana Lowery (Carrollton, Ohio/Carrollton) also enters in and will provide depth and height down the in the post for Hiram.
Hiram returns one center from last season and also adds a new one, giving it more size down low.
Sophomore Mercedes Jones (Dayton, Ohio/Ponitz Career Technology Center) is back after collecting NCAC Newcomer of the Year honors. Last season, Jones played in all 26 contests, recording a team-high 16 blocks. In addition, she finished second on the roster in scoring (10.0 ppg) and rebounding (3.8 ppg).
Freshman Bri Burgos (Chippewa Lake, Ohio/Cloverleaf) joins the Terriers and will add more height for the Terriers.
With a solid core of centers, Hiram will look to have a stronger presence on both the offensive and defensive end.
Hiram will tipoff the 2015-16 campaign against Mt. St. Joseph at the Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic on Nov. 14. The Terriers will follow that up with their home opener on Nov. 18 against Thiel (Pa.).
Hiram will take part in two tournaments, with the first being the PSU-Behrend Tipoff Tournament. The Terriers will take on the host Lions on Nov. 20 and will play another game the following day. Hiram will also play in the Marietta Turkey Shootout on Nov. 28 and 29, taking on the host Pioneers on Nov. 28.
Other non-conference contests include home games against Westminster (Pa.) on Nov. 24 and Muskingum on Dec. 28 and a road game at Franciscan on Dec. 14.
The NCAC season gets underway on Dec. 2 at Allegheny (Pa.). Hiram will play its first NCAC home contest on Jan. 2 against reigning NCAC Tournament champion Wittenberg. The Terriers will close out the season on Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. at Denison.
The schedule features some early season tests that will prepare the Terriers for the always difficult NCAC.
With a strong core retruning and the addition of newcomers at every position, the Hiram College owmen's basketball team will look to make a return trip to the NCAC Tournament and take the next step towards a NCAC title.