Cloverleafâ€™s girls basketball team rose from the depths of a 2-19 campaign in 2005-06 to finish one game under .500 last season.
Most coaches would proclaim itâ€™s time to reap the fruits of the growing pains, but fourth-year Cloverleaf pilot John Carmigiano isnâ€™t quite ready for that.
â€œWeâ€™re hoping that with some returning players weâ€™re going to get to a point of having some consistency,â€ he said. â€œIf we can get some scoring from many of our players, I think the season will be a lot more successful. In the preseason weâ€™ve have some great quarters and some others we want to improve on.â€
What Cloverleaf does have is a wealth of experience in seniors Brooke Anderson and Tara Kies and junior Candace Andel. All have seen action since their freshman seasons and have combined for 10 letters and 1,023 career points.
â€œAll three of those players definitely have been our leading scorers over the past few years, so weâ€™ll be looking for them to show their leadership and maturity,â€ said Carmigiano, whose team won the Rocky River and Cloverleaf summer leagues. â€œBecause we are so balanced as a team, we really do need to get production night in and night out from the others on the floor, too.â€
The X-factor of the group is Kies, who averaged 5.6 points last season. A career wing player, the 5-foot-9 Kies has been moved to the post, which should give opponents matchup problems due to her combination of size and athleticism.
â€œTara has done a great job with the transition inside,â€ Carmigiano said. â€œWe feel like she can make good moves to the basket, yet we can still put her on the outside and know we have a serious 3-point threat. That kind of versatility should only help us.â€
Carmigiano also expects big things from Anderson.
â€œBrooke dedicated all her offseason time to getting better as a basketball player,â€ he said. â€œI think weâ€™re really going to see her shine as a senior.â€
Playing forward alongside Kies will be Brittani Pekar (5-9, jr.) and Caitie Coughlin (5-11, jr.).
Manning the guard positions with Anderson (5-5, 6.0 ppg) and Andel (5-6, 8.5 ppg) will be defensive specialist Kayla Henry (5-3, sr.) and newcomer Megan Jackson (5-5, so.)
With an offensive system built around balance and speed, â€œCarmâ€ and his squad are simply looking to be competitive.
â€œWe have a team that has plenty of experience at the varsity level,â€ he said. â€œThese girls are really starting to understand how to play with each other and to utilize each otherâ€™s strengths.â€
Grindle may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-721-4043.