By Rob Kiser
Start slow, take control at some point in the first half — and cruise to victory.
In other words, it was just another Edison State Community College women’s basketball team game this season.
The Lady Chargers took the court for the 16th time Tuesday night and came away with a victory for the 16th time — this time with a 69-49 victory over the Ohio Northern JVs.
And while bigger challenges lie ahead — coach Tim McMahon and his team have already reached uncharted territory with a 16-0 record and moved up to 20th in the most recently NCJAA D-II national poll.
And the way the team just keeps building as the game goes on is not unlike the way McMahon as rebuilt the Chargers program after a 4-20 season in his first year as coach — with a lot of that having to do with a late start to recruiting.
Edison began the climb with a 12-18 record two years ago, before going back into the 20-win column last year with a 20-11 mark — something that had become familiar under previous coach Kim Rank.
Still, no one could have anticipated winning the first 16 games this season — or doing it by averaging 83.1 points, while allowing just 50.9.
“I knew we had a good team,” McMahon said. “I don’t think you ever expect to start 16-0. We have been fortunate with no injuries — we are healthy. And we have a real strong bench. I think that is why we get stronger as the game goes on.”
After averaging almost a double-double as a freshman, 6-foot-1 sophomore Riley Culver (Wapakoneta) is doing the same again, with 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. She has four double-doubles and would have more except for limited minutes with all the big victory margins.
“Last year was a huge learning experience,” Culver said. “You were kind of in awe. I didn’t expect 16-0 at all. But, all of our players are really solid — the starters, the bench, everyone is solid.”
Joining Culver as returning starters are 5-4 sophomore guard Jessie Crowell (Covington) and 5-9 sophomore forward Holly Frey (Fort Loramie). Crowell averages 10.6 points, while Frey fills out the stat sheet, led by her 6.9 points and 5.3 rebounds.
After gaining valuable experience as a freshman, 5-8 sophomore guard Lauren Monnin (Versailles) has emerged as a weapon.
She leads the team with 15.5 points and 3.0 assists, while also pulling down 5.3 rebounds per game.
“Definitely, last year was a learning experience,” Monnin said. “I never expected this (a 16-0 start), mainly because when we started the season we had 17 girls — I wasn’t sure how that was going to play out. Everything has just come together. Everybody on this team is close and we all work well together.”
Another former Versailles player — 5-8 freshman Clair Schmitmeyer — moved into the starting lineup seven games ago and has never looked back. Schmitmeyer already earned one OCCAC Player of the Week honor and has upped her averages to 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds.
But, it doesn’t stop there.
Kailani Broyles, a 5-6 senior from Massillon Washington — and 5-4 freshman Kaylesha Broyles from Massillon Washington create havoc with their quickness on defense.
Kailani averages 9.7 points and Kaylesha averages 5.0. Shania Taylor (St. Marys) is a 5-9 freshman who started early in the season and averages 6.3 points per game.
Rounding out the roster are 5-8 freshman Lauryn Gray (Piqua), who is one of five players with a double-double this season, 5-9 freshman Rosie Westerbeck (Minster), 5-3 freshman Elizabeth Carroll (Newton), 5-9 freshman Marin Reis (Dayton Christian), 5-6 freshman Emily Crase (Bethel), 5-8 freshman Kayla Tullis (Graham), 5-6 freshman Morgan Crase (Bethel) and 5-10 freshman Anna Pomeroy (Alden, Iowa).
And the challenges will start Saturday when the Chargers travel to Lakeland, with traditional power Owens looming on the schedule.
“We definitely have some tough games coming up,” McMahon said.
And the girls would have it any other way. So far, the only close game was a 99-90 win over Columbus State.
“I do (look forward to it),” Culver said. “Because, those teams are going to push us the entire game. It will be good to see where we stand.”
As for Tuesday night, Monnin led a balanced attack with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Culver scored 11 and blocked four shots.
Kailani Broyles scored 11 points off the bench, while Crowell netted nine and Taylor had nine points and eight rebounds off the bench. Frey had four steals and Schmitmeyer dished out four assists.
“I don’t know who scored tonight — and the great thing about it, is the girls don’t know either. They don’t worry about it.”
They just keep adding wins to a season that has already reached uncharted territory.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.