hen Cuyahoga Heights opens the 2019-2020 season later this month, the Redskins will do so with the goal of becoming a family in the hopes of winning a league title and making a deep run in the postseason.
Unlike most teams, the Redskins have a head start in forming that familial bond as three of their projected starters actually are related.
“McKayla and Mia Spicer are sisters and Julia Harris is their cousin,” Cuyahoga Heights coach Al Martin said.
McKayla Spicer and Harris are returning starters from the squad that finished 14-8 overall and 9-5 in league play last winter.
While several new players will step into key roles, Martin is confident the Redskins will play with as much intensity and tenacity as in years past.
“We have a hard-working group of girls who work hard every day to get better,” said Martin, who is 246-83 in 15 years at the school. “Our girls are unselfish and have good team chemistry.”
The Redskins won’t overpower their opponents but they do hope to outwork them.
“We have very little height and will need to do a great job boxing out and going after loose balls,” Martin said.
McKayla Spicer, a 5-foot-4 senior post, returns to the starting lineup after averaging 7.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.8 assists per game last winter. She earned second-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference honors and was an honorable mention all-district selection.
Harris, a 5-foot-6 junior guard, also returns. She scored 5.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.5 assists per game in being named honorable mention All-CVC and all-district.
“McKayla is a creative scorer and tough competitor,” Martin said. “Julia is a talented offensive player and very athletic.”
Mia Spicer, Sydney Dyer and MaKayla Hizak round out the projected starting lineup.
Spicer, a 5-foot-8 sophomore post, averaged 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season. Dyer is a 5-foot-4 junior wing and Hizak is a 5-foot-4 senior wing.
“Mia can score the ball in the post and is an excellent passer,” Martin said. “Sydney is an intelligent player who is working hard on her offensive skills. MaKayla is very athletic and a tenacious on the ball defender.”
Seniors Katarina Kiriazis and Purva Chauhan, sophomores Kaitey Calvey, Delayne DiSanza and Olivia Santiago and freshman Grace Lasky will provide depth for the Redskins.
Kiriazis is a 5-foot-6 post while Chauhan is a 5-foot-3 wing.
“Katarina is a physical post and good rebounder,” Martin said. “Purva is a tough wing player.”
Calvey, DiSanza and Lasky are wing players while Santiago will play in the post.
“Kaitey finds ways to put the ball in the basket,” Martin said. “Delayne has a great feel for setting up her teammates for shots. Olivia is an aggressive post player. Grace has excellent offensive skills for a freshman.”
The Redskins once again are focused on playing stifling defense and hope to improve their offense this season.