Golden Eagles look to improved scoring to compete in OCC Capital Division girls basketball race
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
While Big Walnut’s girls basketball team’s pluses — good size, good defense, team chemistry — outweigh its minuses, the one weakness, scoring, stands between the Golden Eagles and a successful season.
“We have good size, we will be good defensively and our team chemistry is good, we need someone to step up and improve our scoring if we are to be successful this season,” said veteran Big Walnut head coach Bob Scott who will be assisted by Gary Miller and Frank Turner on the sidelines this season.
Scott, who led Big Walnut to a 13–10 (7–7 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division) record last season, thanks to a 10–5 season-ending run to finish three games over the .500 mark, will look to five returning letter winners to carry the Golden Eagles’ fortunes during the 2012–13 campaign.
Back are senior forward Emily Chucta, the team’s lone two-year letter winner, along senior guards Samantha Klinedinst and Stephanie Adkins and junior posts Skylar Fleak and Sara Petty. Klinedinst, Adkins, Fleak and Petty return as one-year letter winners.
Fleak, who was honored as Big Walnut’s top inside player with the Leading Rebounder Award, returns as the Golden Eagles’ top scoring threat after averaging 7.3 points per game as a sophomore last season. She was recognized as an Honorable Mention All-OCC and Honorable Mention District 11 performer.
Lost to graduation were the Golden Eagles’ top two point producers in forward Megan Walters (203 points in 21 games/9.7 ppg) and point guard Kayleigh Hammond (146 points in 20 games/7.3 ppg). Walters, who was recognized as a First Team District 11 and Honorable Mention All-OCC selection, was honored with the Leading Scorer Award. Hammond, who was selected a Second Team District 11 and All-OCC choice, was the recipient of the Golden Eagle Award. Guard Calen Williams received the Coaches Award.
Scott, who has a 152–110 (.580) record in 13 seasons at Big Walnut, will look to four newcomers up from the Golden Eagle junior varsity squad to contribute this season. Moving up are junior guards Leah Shaw and Hannah Sewell along with sophomore guards Makenna Hammond and Erica Boehm.
Key holes in the Golden Eagle lineup that need to be addressed include filling the vacancy at point guard and finding a scoring threat. Adkins and Boehm are the leading candidates to take over for Hammond who was a two-year starter at point guard.
“Stephanie and Erica are the front runners at the point,” Scott said. “As far as finding someone to lead us in the scoring column, we may have to look at multiple players to get the job done.”
Last season, Big Walnut outscored its opponents 984 to 870, averaging 42.8 points-per-game while allowing their opponents only 37.8 points-per-game. In the Central District Tournament, the Golden Eagles allowed only 103 points in three games (34.3 ppg) while scoring 135 points (45.0 ppg) in winning two of their three postseason starts
Looking ahead to the upcoming OCC Capital Division campaign, Scott sees defending champion Olentangy Orange (14–0) and newcomer Olentangy as favorites to battle for the title. New Albany (12–2), which returns all five starters, is expected to contend if the Eagles stay healthy. Hilliard Bradley, which was replaced by Olentangy in the Capital Division, placed third with a 9–5 mark.
“We must be able to compete with all three teams if we are to attain our goal of a league championship,” said Scott.
Scott’s keys for a successful 2012–13 campaign? Stay healthy, increase scoring, guard play and improve free throw shooting.
Big Walnut opens its season on Friday, November 30 in an OCC Capital Division road game at Franklin Heights. Tip-off time is 7:30 p.m. The Golden Eagles open their home slate on Tuesday, December 4, with Licking Heights at 7:30 p.m.