Black River girls basketball coach Bill Roniger doesnâ€™t wear a hard hat or steel-toed shoes, but he is definitely a man of construction.
In his fourth year, Roniger led the Pirates to nine wins â€” their most since 2001-02 â€” and the schoolâ€™s first postseason victory in five seasons.
A little success like that has helped Black River slowly build up its program and create excitement.
The team created such a buzz that the Pirates will be fielding their first ever freshman squad and have also started squads at the fifth- and sixth-grade levels.
â€œThat success builds, and thatâ€™s evident with us having a freshman team,â€ said Roniger, who is 21-43 at Black River. â€œThe lower levels are growing and becoming active. Weâ€™re really pleased with that.
â€œNow we just have to build upon that success and just continue to work hard.â€
One reason for that success is in the post. Namely, Chelsey Calhoun.
The senior forward busted onto the scene last winter after standout Megan Deidrick went down with a knee injury and averaged 12.1 points and 10.6 rebounds. She was one of just three Medina County players to average a double-double.
â€œAt the start of last year, nobody heard of her, but she steadily improved,â€ Roniger said of the 5-foot-8 All-Gazetter.
Combine Calhounâ€™s efforts with fellow returnees Brittany Lutz (5-8, G, sr.) and Megan Keathly (5-1, G, sr.), and the Pirates could be poised to go to the next level. Lutz has the second-most points returning at 4.4.
â€œThose three define what our program will hopefully become,â€ Roniger said. â€œTake them coming through the program; they know what itâ€™s about.â€
Black River will also have added size with 6-0 Krystal Coffman, 5-7 Charleigh Carr and 5-7 Alicia Altenburger all seeing minutes.
With that increase in size, Roniger will tweak his pressure defense into more of a half-court concept, while offensively turning the old-fashioned pick and roll to attack.
Junior forward Emily Plank (5-9) and forward Cherie Shanko (5-6) round out Ronigerâ€™s eight-man rotation.
When it comes to the Patriot Athletic Conference, Roninger is more worried about finishing the foundation before hoisting up the walls.
â€œTo me, itâ€™s about Black River taking care of Black River,â€ he said. â€œWe donâ€™t want to be overlooked any more. I think everything will fall into place.â€