The Monroe Central girls will be learning on the fly this season.
Head coach Troy Baker begins his 13th season at the helm of the Lady Seminoles program, which features 17 players out for the squad.
"That's about a normal number (of players) for us, but we have to make up for a really good group we lost to graduation," Baker said.
PICTURED IS the 2013-14 Monroe Central girls basketball team. Front row, from left, are Katelyn Dimmerling, Allison Kuhn, Annie Digity, Kelsey Dick, Laycie Ball, Christa Russell and Megan Ball. Back row, from left, are assistant coach Doug Yoho, assistant coach Chris Kuhn, Carly Baker, Erin Miller, Molly Schumacher, Kaleigh Marley and head coach Troy Baker.
The Lady Seminoles finished with a strong 15-9 record, but lost basically all of their scoring production from last season, including leading scorers Chelsie Roberts and Chelsie Tewanger.
"Someone is definitely going to have to pick up the scoring load for us," Baker said. "We'll probably be more balanced than we've been in the past and have different people score on different nights."
Also lost to graduation were Ann LaFollette, Melanie Stimpert, Elizabeth Robey and Amanda Haslam.
Prep coaches have to deal with graduation and replacing players basically every season, but Baker and all of Monroe Central's coaches have faced some different challenges in preparing for the season.
Because of the failed levy in the Switzerland of Ohio School District, the three schools went to a 'pay to participate' method and each team must fend for itself in terms of transportation to and from games.
Baker, who coached volleyball in the fall, didn't have a player not come out because of the fee and he plans to utilize school buses for the road trips, estimating that it will cost between $3,400 and $3,500 for the season.
"We're going to pay the $2 per mile plus the bus driver," Baker said. "We'll fund that either through donations from businesses in town or our boosters will pay for it."
Once he got his roster and transportation set, Baker shifted his focus back to basketball and a team that's going to be young in a bevy of positions.
"We have three seniors and all of them lettered last year," Baker said. "They're going to have to pick up some of the scoring for us."
With some varsity experience blending with some new faces, the biggest key for the Lady Seminoles becomes how fast they'll be up to speed collectively.
"How quickly they learn to handle different situations will determine our success," Baker said. "With any young team, we're going to have some growing pains. We're going to make some mistakes, but when we do, we just need to move on from them and not let them get to us."
The Lady Seminoles have made steady progress since the summer, according to their head coach.
"We had a pretty good summer and so far we've practiced well, so I am optimistic," Baker said. "As we gain experience, we'll get better."
The actual identity of the Lady Seminoles will be a work-in-progress, but Baker admits his team had better defend well.
"We're not exactly sure of offensive approach and whether or not we'll be able to play really up-tempo or not," Baker said. "We'll do a lot of different things and see what works out best for us."
The three-member senior class is being asked to provide leadership both on and off the floor.
Kelsey Dick (5-8) started the majorty of last season, but she had her season cut short with a hand injury.
"Kelsey works hard, she's a good free throw shooter and does anything we ask," Baker said. "She actually broke her hand last season taking a charge, so she's not afraid to step in and play defense."
Laycie Ball (5-6) was one of the first subs for the Lady Seminoles.
"Between Kelsey and Laycie, they probably averaged between eight or nine points, so they'll take on bigger roles," Baker said. "Laycie is probably the most athletic person on our team. She's more of a slasher, driver type."
Annie Digity (5-6) will be one of the top perimeter shooters for the Lady Seminoles. She, too, saw quality action off the bench last winter.
Junior Katelyn Dimmerling (5-7) is another that Baker is high on and expects to contribute a lot of action.
Another junior vying to get into the rotation is Jazmine Speedy.
Sophomore Carly Baker (5-6) is expected to be one of the top options at point guard.
The remainder of sophomore class consists of Kaleigh Marley, Molly Schumacher, Megan Ball and Christa Russell.
Freshman Allison Kuhn is another who Baker believes can challenge for signficant playing time this season.
Other frosh on the squad, who are ticketed for jayvee duty include: Lakin Carothers, Taryn Burkhart, Brooklyne Piatt, Cheyenne Williams and Gracie Gardner.
The Lady Seminoles currently only have 20 games scheduled. They've been unable to find a replacement for Beallsville. Baker said the search is ongoing, but he also realizes he's facing a tall task in finding something at this late date.
Baker's coaching staff is the same. Chris Kuhn and Doug Yoho are back with the varsity staff.