Centre girls’ basketball lost six seniors to graduation last spring, and one foreign exchange student who was a starter.
On the plus side, four letterwinners — seniors Ally Basore and Abigail Svoboda and juniors Summer Espinoza and Shelby Pankratz —return to anchor the team.
“While we don’t return a lot of players, the ones that return have gained high-level experience and expectations by virtue of four straight trips to the state tournament,” coach Alan Stahlecker said.
Basore, a 5-foot-10 post player averaged 4.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last year. She shot 50 percent from the free-throw line. She and Pankratz shared a starting position.
Pankratz, a 5-7 guard, was the second leading scorer with an average 7.2 points per game. She was named to the all-league first team.
Espinoza, a 5-8 forward, averaged 3.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Svoboda is a senior guard.
Stahlecker hopes new players will grow into the varsity level quickly. The top contenders include Kate Basore, a 5-10 sophomore; Whitney Gutsch, a 5-10 senior, who will play the post position; Katie Marler, a 5-6 junior; and Emily Schlesener, a 5-7 sophomore, who will play guard.
Stahlecker expects the team to be strong inside and be competitive in the Wheat State League. He sees Centre and Elyria Christian finishing above Goessel but that any team in the league can beat any other team on a given night.
“We will need consistent scorers to step up and take the lead,” he said.
The other members of the squad are seniors Carissa Shields and Kristin Vinduska; junior Kaitlin Brunner; and sophomores Becca Casey, Janel Dones, and Grace Peterson.
Stahlecker is in his seventh year as head coach of the girls’ team. He is assisted by Kim Shannon Shields.
The first game will be Friday at Central Christian in Hutchinson.