Even with three returning starters, the Crestwood Red Devils remain relatively young entering the 2023-2024 season.
The good news for the Red Devils is four of their returning players earned all-conference honors last winter.
“With a very young team still, having three juniors with three years of varsity experience, we have added young talent around them and will look forward to changing the way we play,” said third-year head coach T.J. Henderson. “We have come a long way and will be looking to pressure the ball and get as many shots up in a game as possible. With the experienced players putting in so much work in the offseason, we will have the ability to limit other teams and put the ball in the hole.”
Crestwood won just four games last winter but with added experience and improved overall athleticism, improvement is on the horizon.
“As a team, our overall athleticism has improved,” Henderson said. “We will look to press and create turnovers with our speed and move the ball to get our shooters open looks. We also have some girls that can knock down shots when open from multiple positions. Post and guards that can score at all levels will allow for opportunities for great looks. Our challenges this year will still be with our experience and overall youth. If we can increase our basketball IQ and trust in each other, we will be able to compete and have a lot of fun playing the game.”
Hannah Ward, a 5-foot-11 junior guard, returns after scoring 248 points with 125 rebounds, 79 steals, and 60 blocks as a sophomore. She was named first-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference.
She has drained 101 3-pointers in her career, four short of the school record set by Kylie Krupp.
“Coming off another successful season, Hannah has focused on developing all aspects of her game,” Henderson said. “She has increased her ability to handle the ball and pass while being a great shooter. Look for her to have a breakout season with stats across the board.”
Junior 5-foot-6 guard Abby Guyette was a second-team all-conference selection after recording 69 steals and 68 assists last season.
“Abby is our floor general always looking to pass the ball around to the open shooter,” Henderson said. “She is the ultimate competitor and loves to play (defense).”
Junior Maddie Dustman, a 5-foot-10 forward, recorded 136 rebounds last season to go along with 29 assists on her way to earning second-team All-CVC honors.
“(She has) athleticism to spread the floor and handle the basketball,” Henderson said. “Will be a key contributor on the glass and creating match-up issues for other teams. Has the ability to make plays in space and play physical inside.”
Sophomore Becca Brady and senior Lilly O’Bryant round out the projected starting lineup.
Brady is a 5-foot-6 guard who earned honorable mention All-CVC honors last winter, while O’Bryant is a 5-foot-7 forward.
“Becca has worked hard this offseason to become a more well-rounded player. With a year of experience, look for her to be more aggressive and help the team put the ball in the hole,” Henderson said. “(O’Bryant is a) senior post player that loves contact. Will be all over the boards and help the team get key stops to get the ball.”
Crestwood’s depth will come via seniors Kaitlyn Huffman and Lainey Thomas and freshmen Grace Harper and Livia Martini.
Huffman is a 5-foot-4 guard while Thomas is a 5-foot-8 forward.
“(Huffman is an) aggressive guard that works hard on both sides of the ball,” Henderson said. “(Thomas is a) new senior (who) will use her athleticism to run the floor and create chaos on the defensive side of the ball.”
Harper is a 5-foot-10 forward and Martini is a 5-foot-6 guard.
“(Harper is a) talented freshman with size and a great touch around the basket. She will be able to help spread the floor and grab rebounds all game long,” Henderson said. “Liv is new to basketball but extremely athletic. She will look to use her incredible speed to score in the open court and cause havoc on the defensive side of the ball.”
Crestwood’s game plan will likely include spreading the floor to allow their shooters to find space to create better shot opportunities.
The Red Devils also will use their athleticism to control the paint.
“We will look to use our shooters to allow us to spread the floor and attack the basketball with athletes and athletic post players,” Henderson said. “We will look to continue our growth and give ourselves a chance to compete for a league title.”