By Rob Kiser
Piqua girls basketball coach Brian Gillespie is a glass half-full kind of coach.
And he can hardly wait until that glass is filled to the rim for the Lady Indians — although he understands this year will not be without growing pains.
The 11-player Piqua varsity roster includes six sophomores and a freshman — with just one senior and two seniors.
“We are young,” Gillespie said. “That is a big thing with this team. There are going to be ups and downs we know that.”
In Gillespie’s first season, Piqua went 6-17.
And the Lady Indians have to replace five seniors off that team.
Kayla Schrubb, Tasha Potts, Morgen Grunkemeyer, Frannie Haney and Hannah Went combined to average 31.5 points off a team that averaged 36.7 points a year ago.
Potts, Schrubb and Grunkemeyer also combined for more than half the team’s rebounds, while Went and Haney were good for 40 percent of the team’s assists.
“You are not going to instantly replace five seniors like that,” Gillespie said. “It is just not going to happen.”
But, he relishes the challenge.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids to coach,” he said. “Our team GPA has to be close to 4.0 and it is great to coach a group of kids that are willing to run through a wall for you. Scoring is going to be a challenge, but we are working on that.”
Carly Brown is the lone senior and is a 5-foot-7 forward.
“Carly (Brown) is our only senior and most experienced player,” Gillespie said. “She did a nice job for us last year and has done a great job this year in new role.”
The other two players with varsity experience from a year ago are 5-9 junior Chloe Clark and 5-8 sophomore Mikayla Schaffner.
“Chloe (Clark) is long and lean and did a nice job for us last year,” Gillespie said. “We will county heavily on her down on the block. Chloe only knows one speed and that is full go. The key will be keeping her healthy and on the floor.”
Schaffner is currently out with a hamstring injury.
“There is a reason I kept Mikayla (Schaffner) on varsity as a freshman,” Gillespie said. “It is very hard to be successful as a freshman. Mikayla played well last year, but hit some walls. She has the ability to be a very special player. Certainly an All-GWOC player before she is done.”
Also seeing time inside will be 5-7 sophomore Lauren Williams and 5-9 junior Claire Went.
“Lauren (Williams) will probably play the three,” Gillespie said. “She is a good defensive player. We are still working on her offense. Her defensive and athleticism are definitely her strengths. Claire (Went) is a great communicator out there and is going to be a great leader out there.”
Adding depth will be 5-7 sophomore Emily Powell.
“Emily (Powell) has worked really hard and it is amazing how far she has come,” Gillespie said. “She has gone from a girl who didn’t play any JV as a freshman to someone who is going to be able to help out on varsity as a sophomore.”
Sophomores Lily Stewart and Kelsey Magoteaux, along with 5-5 freshman Macie Schaffner will see action in the backcourt.
Stewart, 5-4, will be the point guard.
“Lily (Stewart) is a great kid and solid at the point,” Gillespie said. “She is also a threat on the perimeter, which we can use. We didn’t shoot a lot of threes last year, but I think we may do more of that this year.”
Magoteaux, 5-6, played mostly JV as a freshman.
“She is just a real solid kid,” Gillespie said. “She will play the two-guard and some point. She is a kid you can count on to always be where she is supposed to be. She is only a sophomore, but she is more like a senior our there. She is ready to be an impact player”
Schaffner is currently out with a concussion.
“She is a lot more fearless than most freshman are,” Gillespie said. “She has a lot of confidence and doesn’t play like a freshman. I think she is going to have a lot of success.”
Rounding out the roster are 5-4 junior guard Ainsleigh Spradlin and 5-7 sophomore Jay Tipton.
“We are going to have to find a way to rebound against taller teams — which is pretty much everybody,” Gillespie said. “But, we know that. There isn’t a 6-4 girl walking through the door.”
Gillespie would like to play uptempo, but knows those opportunities will probably be limited.
“We have to be careful to not getting in a running game,” he said. “We have focused on defense. And we need to rebound if we want to get out on the break. It will depend on who we are playing.”
Gillespie sees the GWOC North as being strong.
“I think Sidney is probably the favorite,” he said. “With Vandalia-Butler and Trotwood-Madison right there. Troy has a girl back who didn’t play last year. Overall, I see it as a tough division.”
The GWOC crossover schedule isn’t any easier, but the Lady Indians are focused on improving throughout the season.
“There is a reason our them is the Future Is Now,” Gillespie said. “I look forward to watching as the this group builds and grows.”
Which is the only way to full the “cup” to the rim.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.