Wickliffe returns all five starters from last year’s squad that finished 3-18 overall, which explains why the Blue Devils struggled last season.
Experience is plentiful heading into the 2017-2018 season, but the Blue Devils are still on the relatively young side with three underclassmen projected to be among the starting five.
“We have everyone back, although we are still young,” said third-year Wickliffe coach Rashon Wilson. “The girls know the schemes and offenses and should be able to run them more efficiently.”
Wilson is encouraged by what he has seen out of his players in the preseason and he’s confident the experience the Blue Devils gained last year will pay dividends this winter.
“I think our team will play very well this year,” he said. “We aren’t very deep but expect to play good defense and improve over the past two years.”
Second-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference honoree Mary Burkett returns after averaging 15 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocked shots per contest last year.
The senior also earned third team all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio honors after leading Northeast Ohio in blocked shots.
“She’s a great shot blocker and an all-around player,” Wilson said.
Senior forward Nicole Carroscia also returns to the starting lineup after averaging 8 points and 9 rebounds per game last season.
“She’s a great defender and rebounder,” Wilson said. “She’s the emotional leader of the team.”
Rounding out the projected starting lineup are three sophomores.
Point guard Stephanie Martin averaged 14 points and 5 assists per game on the way to earning honorable mention All-CVC and all-district honors.
“She’s a great scorer, ball-handler and passer,” Wilson said.
Guards Ana Stepanovic and Hannah Levon provide the Blue Devils with a solid backcourt on both ends of the floor. Stepanovic averaged two steals per game while Levon dropped in five points per contest.
Wilson also expects sophomore forward Bridgette Burkett to make an impact this season.
For Wickliffe, success won’t necessarily be measured in wins and losses, but the Blue Devils have the potential to see a major swing in that category if they stick to the fundamentals.
“We have to make layups, free throws and play good defense,” Wilson said. “If we do that we will put ourselves in position to be successful.”