Medina girls basketball coach Mark Loomis has no lack of motivational phrases.
One of his favorites is, â€œCharacter plus Team plus Intensity equals Success.â€
The Bees lost All-Gazette picks Katelyn Warnke and Erin Beadle to graduation, as well as starting floor general Maria Platzbecker.
Then it got worse. Top-returning scorer Kelly Pickering (7.5 ppg), a Division I track prospect, decided to skip hoops to train for college. On Nov. 1, Sarah Bilinovich (4.8 ppg) tore an anterior cruciate ligament for the second straight season.
Suffice to say, the Bees will be looking for more character, teamwork and intensity as they prepare for season No. 1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division.
â€œWeâ€™re not going to change,â€ Loomis said. â€œWeâ€™re playing a different style of ball this year. Weâ€™re playing more kids and weâ€™re playing more full court, but our philosophy doesnâ€™t change. We try to do those three things and, if we do, a byproduct will be a successful program.â€
Leading the charge for Medina, which went 11-10 a year ago, will be senior guards Emily Hulthen (5-6, 5.5 ppg) and Erica Rigney (5-6, 3.8 ppg).
â€œEmily Hulthen is just an awesome athlete,â€ Loomis said of the Gazette MVP in volleyball. â€œSheâ€™s our fiery captain. Sheâ€™s our vocal captain.
â€œErica Rigney is a captain, but sheâ€™s more show it on the court, so we have a nice combination there.â€
Sophomore Sarah Flanders will complete the backcourt from her point guard position. Loomis is excited to see what the plucky guard can do with the keys to the offense.
â€œI think sheâ€™s going to be our next Moe Platzbecker,â€ he said, referring to the graduated point guard. â€œSheâ€™s kind of rested from soccer, but I think sheâ€™s going to be good.â€
Three-point specialist Paige Whitaker (G, sr.) will also start in Loomisâ€™ spread look and sophomore Emily Witsaman, the tallest player on the roster at 6-foot, will try to hold her own down low.
The bench consists of Gazette girls golf MVP Tegan Skirpstas (F, sr.) and Katie Woodling (G, jr.), a combination of players from last seasonâ€™s 17-3 junior varsity squad and newcomers, including Claire Beadle (G, so.), Sarah McCormick (F, so.), Liz Hiteshue (F, fr.), Sydney Thomas (G, fr.) and Taylor Burke (G, fr.).
â€œI think we have to (be more wide open) because we have a lot of athletes that can get up and down the floor,â€ Loomis said. â€œWe might not have a superstar, but we have a lot of kids who can play basketball.â€
Loomis didnâ€™t flat-out say the season will be a rebuilding one, but did hint it could be a learning process for his extremely young unit, which boasts just three 12th-graders.
â€œWe have a lot of people with unique talents and gifts, and if we can get them to use those gifts, it could be an interesting season,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™re all great kids. They have character, they work hard, theyâ€™re intense competitors and they like to win.
â€œWeâ€™ll play our games and see how the season unfolds, but weâ€™re a very young team.â€