After going 7-14 last season, the Danbury Lakers showed steady improvement this year, going 10-13 and 9-5 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
And with nearly the entire team returning next season, there is reason to believe that better days are on the horizon for Danbury.
Head coach Joe Fetzer, who returned to coaching this year, was pleased with the team’s progress but is hoping for better results in the future.
“Well, we thought we made progress from the beginning of the year,” he said. “We finished third in the conference, so we were happy with that. Our goals are certainly higher than that, but that’s the best finish we’ve had in a couple years. We’re pleased with our progess.”
The Lakers, who played without one of its best players, Kelsey Clemons, because of an injury, will be losing Lilly Kennedy, a versatile threat who played several positions for the team.
“She played a lot of roles for us, as a forward, as a guard, at multiple positions,” Fetzer said. “While she did not start, she was valuable coming off the bench and we will miss her.”
Junior Erin Lavelle led the team in scoring with 7.2 points, good enough to earn first-team TAAC honors and Honorable Mention recognition in the District. Sophomore Megan Stephens was second on the team in both scoring (6.2) and rebounding (6.5), Cassidy Rhodes was third on the team in scoring (5.9) and center Stephanie Kukay led the team with 6.7 rebounds per games.
Other returning varsity players will include Tori Wright, Alyssa Almendinger and Katie Almendinger, all of whom averaged around 4-5 points per game.
“All five starters are back,” Fetzer said, “and out of the 20 girls we had in the high school program, we have 19 coming back.”
“I think the JV team was 9-11. There are no spots sewn up (for next season). Everything is wide open. When you’re 10-13, there’s a lot of room for improvement. There were some kids that played JV and showed some growth. If they continue to grow, they could see some time at the varsity level.”
With the season having just ended, the work to improve begins now.
“There are high expectations here,” said Fetzer, who previously coached the team from 1993-03. “A 10-13 record is not something we celebrate. We don’t have to try and get people on board. We had a lot of success early on and it’s still the same people in the community that remember that. Hopefully, we can live up to those expectations and get better.”
“We will use our 10 coaching days this summer. Our kids are committed to getting better. They’ll work on their skills this summer. We know we have to become better shooters. We’ll have the gym open for the kids to work as much as they want to. We’re really excited about the direction of the program and we hope to see the results of this hard work next season.”