HICKSVILLE — Almost 95 percent of Hicksville’s scoring graduated.
Over 90 percent of the team’s rebounding? Gone.
The Hicksville Aces head into the 2019-20 campaign needing to replace the bulk of just about everything coming off of their 10-13 season.
And while some might call it a rebuilding year with just one senior on the team, this year’s edition of Hicksville Aces girls basketball is looking at it more as a reload.
“While we lost eight seniors and five starters, we are very excited for this season and the girls are ready to compete,” exclaimed fourth-year bench boss Josh Freese, who will once again be assisted by Bob Weatherhead and Ryan Miser. “We had a very good offseason together where we improved immensely as a team and grew a lot closer.”
It’s tough to overlook the loss of players such as all-Green Meadows Conference first-teamer and four-year letter winner Micah Schroeder (9.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1 bpg, 1.2 spg), second-teamer Katelyn Bergman (4 letters, 9.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1 spg) and three-year letter winner Harlee Shuman (7 ppg, 5 rpg, 2.7 apgm 3.2 spg). Also gone from last year’s group are Emily Sanders (4.8 ppg, 3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.7 spg), Samantha Klima (3.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg), Riley Figgins, Allison Steury and Noelle Nuttle.
Despite all of the graduates, however, the Aces bring back three letter winners and have a mix of length and speed ready and willing to step into bigger roles as the Aces search for their first conference championship since 1975.
“The girls are ready to push each other and get to work,” remarked Freese.
Kennedey Villena is the lone senior on an otherwise youthful Aces’ roster.
The 5-9 senior returns after appearing in all 23 games her junior season where she averaged 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.
Junior Kennedy Phillips and sophomore Avery Slattery are the only other players on the roster who return as letter winners with Kelsey Monroe seeing very few minutes a season ago.
Phillips appeared in 18 games while Slattery played in 15 and Monroe in nine.
“We are counting on the upperclassmen to lead by example and they have been doing that since last summer,” said Weatherhead. “What they may lack in varsity experience, they have made up in their effort and willingness to learn.”
The team has shown strong chemistry throughout the preseason and is quick while playing solid defense, which could be key as the offense gets up to speed at the varsity level.
Slattery, Phillips, Villena and Monroe are slated to be joined by freshman Kenzie Schroeder to open the season. Schroeder gives the team a six-foot presence on the court and is one of three freshmen expected to bring some energy to the Hicksville Aces high school basketball program.
Lindsay Bergman (5-9) and Molly Crall (5-10) join Schroeder as the trio of freshmen on the varsity roster while Izzie Smith and Macie Eicher will play key roles as sophomores.
“Izzie Smith and Macie Eicher have been raising our level of intensity in practices, and have been a big factor in setting the defensive tone for the rest of the team,” noted Weatherhead. “The freshmen will need to step in and contribute from game one. There will be a learning curve for certain, but all have an incredible work ethic and have already made great strides. Their level of intensity has been a great addition.”
The Aces get a nice measuring stick game right out of the gate against Archbold and see league rival Fairview, which brings back a fair share of athletes, in a non-league tilt in early December.
Depending how the first six league games go, the Aces could have a lot to play for as far as the GMC goes to close out the regular season when they host the three-time defending champion Raiders of Wayne Trace on Feb. 13.
“Wayne Trace will be strong behind reigning GMC Player of the Year, Claire Sinn,” concluded Freese. “There are a lot of respected seniors in the league who can make their teams tough to beat on any given night.”