The Palmyra girls basketball team will rely on youth to continue its tradition of success under coach Chris Parsons.
The Palmyra girls basketball team did not like what it witnessed last season.
The Lady Panthers, who won three district championships with a pair of state quarterfinal appearances in the previous four years, could only watch as another team cut down the nets in the district tournament.
“It sounds funny to say with a 19-8 record, but last year was a down year for Palmyra girls basketball,” Lady Panthers coach Chris Parsons said. “We are used to winning districts, so it was rough sitting back and watching someone else do it last year.”
Despite losing three players to graduation, including Nicole Kroeger who went on to Division I Northern Iowa, Parsons is hopeful a youthful team can contend for more titles this year.
“We have a lot of young kids, pretty much a whole new team,” Parsons admitted. “But I think we have a lot of talent that will only grow as the season moves along.”
The Panthers will rely heavily on junior Audrey Fohey. The post presence will be pencilled in the starting lineup for the third straight season.
“She could be one of the most dominant big girls in the area if things go right,” the Panthers coach said. “She will be our vocal point. Anytime you are 6-foot-2 in girls basketball, you can make good things happen. Plus she can step out and knock down a three at anytime.”
Robby Meyers is another player who gained valuable minutes on varsity last season.
“Robby’s confidence level skyrocketed about halfway through the season last year,” the Panthers coach said of his senior. “She will probably be our top defender.”
Senior Delanie Fohey will be the Panthers only other senior. She is new to the varsity team this season and will be a guard.
Rounding out the Lady Panthers starting lineup will be a pair of sophomore guards, Raegan Barnett and Bailey Lovelace.
“They both gained some varsity experience last year, but there is still a big learning curve for them, as well as Delanie,” Parsons admitted. “They are going to have to be able to handle the ball, which is something they sat back and watched our graduating players do for us last year.”
Off the bench will be a plethora of sophomores.
Sadi Kite, Megan Stone, Isabelle Goldinger, Amy Bryan and Eme Ridout will battle for the first options off the bench.
“Megan Stone can come in and be a dead-eye shooter for us, is what we are hoping,” the Panthers coach said. “Isabelle can be a really good point guard. Sadi has a long wingspan for a small forward type player who we are looking for big things out of.
“Amy Bryan and Eme are both options we have inside who can hopefully help hold down the inside.”
A pair of freshmen could also crack the varsity team at some point throughout the season.
Both Riley McKinney and Grace Krigbaum made good impressions on Parsons during the Lady Panthers jamboree on Monday.
“Those freshmen came in and looked really good Monday night,” Parsons said of McKinney and Krigbaum. “They both could help us as the season goes along. We will just see how they develop over time.”
Parsons mentioned despite a youthful team, he is excited for what it could lead to.
“One of the most exciting things is we are going to be very deep,” he explained. “And we have a lot of interchanging parts. We also have a lot of speed, which can cause a lot of havoc.”
Parsons mentioned all the speed he has at his arsenal this season has changed his approach to the game.
“The last couple years I have been more of an offensive junkie,” the coach stated. “I think with our speed we can create a lot of havoc and turn our defense into transition offense. So our defensive pressure is going to be huge.”
With so many new pieces learning the speed of the varsity level, Parsons knows there will be a few bumps in the road in the beginning.
“The talent is here,” the Panthers coach said. “We really have a coach's dream with a good mixture of inside presence and guard play with speed. But with as young as we are we know there is going to be a learning curve. But we are just hoping by Christmas break we can kick it into gear and have everything start falling into place.
“We feel like we have just as good of a chance to compete for another conference and district title as anyone else. It will all depend on how quick we learn.”
The Lady Panthers open the season Nov. 28 against Mark Twain.