After one of the most brilliant seasons in school annals, the Centaurus girls basketball team returns seven seniors and nine players with varsity experience.
The Warriors also feel, in some ways, that they're in start-over mode.
Sounds paradoxical, but it's true.
Coach Jeff Jackson's corps of players largely have grown up competing together, but until this season, none has been counted on to emerge as the prime threat, the keynote player who can break open a tight fourth-quarter game. The player counted on to take the pressure-packed shot in crunch time.
"I don't really know where that shot is going to come from," Jackson said. "I'm still learning a little bit about our offensive production."
The Warriors went 21-4 last season, won the challenging Class 4A Northern League and advanced to the state quarterfinals. While many faces are back from that squad, primary scorers Andi Houck and Maurissa Ortega -- and fellow starter Jordan Matosky -- have graduated.
Jackson is left with nine fairly interchangeable parts that all will see time. The speedy bunch will run more, trap more, substitute more and press more. But that still doesn't answer who the marquee scorer(s) will be.
"This year, it could be more well-rounded," senior guard Anna Hubbell said. "I think anybody could be the person to have the ball at the end of the game. And we'd all be confident they could score."
Hubbell was a complementary scorer last season, but showed flashes of her scoring prowess in the final weeks of the season. Blessed with perhaps the finest offensive skill set on the team, the senior will spend more time at shooting guard than at the point.
Jackson is hoping it will allow Hubbell's mindset to transfer from that of a facilitator to that of a scorer.
"Her outside shooting still needs a little work, but what really shines is her ability to attack the basket," Jackson said. "That's why we're putting her out on the wing, so she can attack a little bit more."
The Warriors' other top scoring threat is the opposite. Lyndie Puckett drills 3-pointers like they're layups -- she made 37 last season -- but doesn't often try to create plays off the dribble.
"I think I'm going to have a big role in the scoring this year, and I think my team is going to expect a lot out of me," Puckett said. "I'm ready, but I think the best improvement for has been my defense. I've worked really hard to get better at that."
The Warriors will use a combination of Shanlie Anderson and Audrey Harriger at point guard (Danelle Dondelinger and Lauren Esler also will see time at the guard positions), with the speedy Anderson likely to get the first shot to run the show.
Returning starter Taylor Langer will team with Midori Patterson and Gianna Manfredini in the front court, giving the Warriors an athletic set of post players who can run the floor.
"I'm trying to get us into a fast-break mode where all five positions are capable of bringing the ball up the floor," Jackson said.
All nine players in the rotation are capable of scoring, but who will have the ball in their hands in crunch time? Seems as though Hubbell's mindset is already changing.
"Returning as a starting guard, I have the responsibility to score more," Hubbell said. "I think I'm ready to take that on."
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