BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
Head coach: Lucas Kennedy, second season
Last year: 4-19 (0-10 SBC Bay)
Key returning players: Olivia Jackson, 5-4, Sr., W; Marcella Brenner, 5-6, Jr., W
Forecast: Despite not having a good season last year, Port Clinton will have to replace a group of senior girls who led that team. The top returning player is 5-4 senior wing Olivia Jackson, who averaged 7.5 points last year.
Jackson will start off the ball with Da’Cariya Lanier, a 5-1 freshman, filling in at point guard. Marcella Brenner (5-6) will play off the ball like Jackson does, and Taylor Bollinger, who is 5-8, will man the post. Bollinger is the only Redskin who is taller than 5-6. The final starting spot could go to Claudia Gillum (5-4) or Brooke Martinez (5-3), two wings.
“Olivia Jackson had a couple games last year where she took off. We’re looking for more consistency, and a role that benefits her. Our freshman point guard, Da’Cariya Lanier, and her have developed chemistry. Olivia Jackson gets some open looks because of Lanier’s ability to dribble and penetrate, and defenders have to respect the outside shot,” said Port Clinton coach Lucas Kennedy.
“Marcella Brenner showed spurts of being able to score points for us. In some games last year, she scored in double digits. I’m expecting her to have a really solid season defensively, and we’re working on that so she can score, get to the line and knock down free throws.
“She’s been very aggressive driving, she’s put in a lot of work, and we’re expecting a really good season for her. Taylor Bollinger is a dark horse. She’s very athletic, can run up and down the court and do the dirty work. She has a competitiveness to her, and a really good touch around the rim. She could take over for us offensively and do some things running the floor.”
Other players that could see time include Kennedy Adkins (5-1), Chloe Klein (5-2), Mackenzie Martinez (5-3), Addisynne Siefke (5-6) and Brianna Rose (5-3).
“We will definitely be rotating more girls in than we did last year. We have a lot of girls that are evenly matched, which is nice, and a lot of girls are interchangeable,” said Kennedy. “We want to play a little more up tempo this year.”
The team will play man-to-man on defense and press the other team in an effort to create opportunities on the offensive side of the ball.
Kennedy sees Margaretta and Willard as the top teams in the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division.
“I feel like there are quite a few teams that got better. Margaretta is always going to be tough, Willard is going to be tough, Edison is going to be tough. Huron is bringing a lot of girls back. They have some athletic guards that have been starting since their freshman year, and they have a lot of experience,” said Kennedy. “Oak Harbor has Adam Steinbrick taking over with the twins and Auna Tack. I would not be surprised to see anyone beat anyone.”
He also talked about the state of the program, which has fallen on tough times recently.
“We had really good team chemistry last year. With me being an assistant for a few years prior, we were able to build some strong relationships, especially with our seniors last year,” Kennedy said. “I love those girls to death. They set a standard last year that we are building on. I wanted those girls to see more success, they played so hard and they just weren’t able to benefit from it. There’s more confidence in the systems that we were putting in place. We expect them to execute and not make as many mistakes as you would in your first year.”