After reaching 20 wins the past two seasons with a limited rotation, Chadwick will have the benefit of depth as the Lady Cardinals seek to repeat as Mark Twain Conference and District champions.
“This will be the deepest team we have had in several years, with a great mix of returners and young talent,” coach Scott Payne said. “If we really focus on defense, we should be a dangerous team in Class 1. Our expectations are the same, we want to win our conference and district and give ourselves a shot when it comes playoff time.”
Chadwick’s leaders are guard Abi Smith and center Paisley Gilbert.
“They bring experience and leadership that will be vital,” Payne said. “I expect them to bring energy and effort every night.”
Smith’s role will change, as she moves from point guard to shooting guard. She averaged 14.5 points a game last season. Gilbert will be counted on again be a strong presence in the paint, after averaging 9.7 points and 6.2 rebounds a game last season.
“I expect Abi to play more freely (as a) shooting guard, with the emergence of (freshman) Kerrigan Guerin at the point,” Payne said. “I expect Paisley to do more of the same on the interior. She will rebound and finish around the rim, just at an increased rate now that she is an upperclassman.”
Chloe Burkhart also returns as a starter and is expected to provide rebounding.
Guerin and and fellow freshman Raeleigh Little didn’t waste any time showing what kind of impact they can make. Guerin scored 19 points and Little 13 in the Lady Cardinals’ 64-13 season-opening win at Norwood last week.
“Kerrigan should help tremendously at point guard with her ball-handling, passing and scoring ability,” Payne said. “Raeleigh is very athletic. They are a really good guard combo on both ends of the floor.”
Other returners are Lexi Loveland, Cora Michael and Maddie Nalley. More newcomers are Lauren Bilyeu and Millie Burkart.
Chadwick will play host to Sparta next week and will be seeking its first win over the Lady Trojans since the 2017-18 season. The Lady Cardinals’ tourney slate includes trips to Fordland, Sparta and Pleasant Hope.