BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
Head coach: Adam Steinbrick, first season
Last year: 9-15 (4-6 SBC Bay)
Key returning players: Auna Tack, 5-11, P, Sr.; Riley Steinbrick, 5-9, G, Jr.; Kaitlin Paul, 5-6, W, Sr.
Forecast: Adam Steinbrick is replacing Tom Kontak, the winningest coach in Oak Harbor history, and has moved up from the JV squad to coach the varsity girls team. Steinbrick brings with him three years of experience coaching at Danbury, and his twin daughters also play for the Rockets.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the team is 5-10 junior wing Ryann Steinbrick, who missed last season because of a torn ACL. As a freshman, she averaged 14.5 points and led the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division in 3-pointers with 41.
Her twin sister, Riley, is the point guard and Auna Tack, a 5-11 senior post, is coming off a season in which she averaged 9.4 points and 9.3 rebounds, tops in the Bay Division and good enough to earn league honors. Kaitlin Paul, a 5-6 senior wing, is a two-year letter winner and has been a steady contributor.
“Auna brings a tremendous amount of energy. We’re going to need her to be physical and rebound for us,” Steinbrick said. “She’s athletic, and she can shoot the ball. We definitely need her to bring the energy to the glass. She’s got to keep us in the games as far as the rebounding battle is concerned.
“Kaitlin is another solid girl in the program. She’s a very good shooter from the outside, and fits in nicely. She has good knowledge of the game.”
The twins will join Tack and Paul in the starting lineup.
“We need Riley to apply pressure,” said Adam Steinbrick. “Ryann led the league in 3-pointers (two years ago), and I think she’s extra hungry after missing last season. She feels pretty good right now.
“All four of them, their basketball I.Q. is pretty strong.”
The quartet will be joined in the starting lineup by one of three post players — 5-9 junior Katie May; 5-7 junior Remi Gregory; and 5-7 freshman Megan Rife.
“We have a couple of younger players that will come in, and we’ll do it by more of a committee,” said Steinbrick. “Katie probably has the upper hand.”
The bench will include the likes of Abby Below (5-2 wing), Holly Robinson (5-7 guard), Nora Schmidt (5-8 wing), Jaclyn Croy (5-7 post) and Molly Downs (5-5 guard).
“We must avoid injuries,” said Steinbrick, “and build depth with our younger players.”
Defensively, the Rockets will incorporate some of Kontak’s principles.
“We’re going to run a combination of Tom’s 1-3-1 zone and look to press and look to go. We’ll have several defensive fronts and push the ball and be up-tempo. The girls are doing a nice job of adjusting to it. We’ll look to score and turn around and apply pressure,” said Steinbrick. “I’m really happy with the total effort and attitude of all the girls. They’ve been working very hard in practice, and every day we get to step on the court is a blessing with everything that is going on. They’ve been a great group to be around.”
The Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division saw Willard and Margaretta win district titles last year. They should be the top teams again this season.
“It’s extremely competitive. On any given night, someone could sneak up and surprise somebody. Some of the teams have drastically improved,” said Steinbrick, who went 33-36 in three seasons at Danbury, a run that included a sectional title. “Margaretta and Willard are going to be extremely good. From top to bottom, it’s a pretty impressive league.”
Steinbrick and his team are very excited to start the season. Its motto is “Believe and Achieve.”
“You’ve got to believe if you want to achieve, and you have to go out and execute and, hopefully, you can achieve (your goals),” he said. “This is a great group and they work extremely hard, they’re very coachable. They listen, they pick it up and by far, the one thing I’m most proud of is our 18 players have a 3.5 GPA. They’re very smart and we’re looking forward to having some basketball fun.”