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Monroe Central girls return seven letter winners

Photo Provided PICTURED IS the 2020-21 Monroe Central girls basketball team. Front row, from left, are Jaysa Henthorn, Riley Bettinger, Gillian Leonard, Hailie Hoyt, Morgan Kendall, Gracey Rainey and Karli Weckbacher. Back row, from left, are assistant coach Trevor Friday, Kalista Friday, Regan Hamilton, Haylynn Hiles, head coach Troy Baker, Kynzi Bishop, Crystal Powell, Trista Morris and assistant coach Doug Yoho.

WOODSFIELD — Expectations are high this season for the Monroe Central girls basketball team. And for good reason.

After winning the Division III sectional championship and reaching the Eastern District title game last winter before bowing to Fort Frye, the Seminoles return seven letterwinners from that 19-7 squad, with four of them having already earned two varsity letters so far in their careers.

“Having seven players that have lettered, some multiple times, always helps,” veteran head coach Troy Baker said. “We lost of lot of depth inside from last year, so that is our biggest void to fill. We just want to get better every day and learn from our mistakes.

“COVID took away the summer basketball for us so we didn’t get those extra games that we are used to getting, and certainly that has made it difficult for our incoming freshmen to get acquainted with everything.”

Heading the list of returnees are senior guards Gillian Leonard (5-5) and Morgan Kendall (5-6), along with a very talented junior class that includes guard Kalista Friday (5-3), guard Trista Morris (5-5), guard/forward Haylyn Hiles (5-11), guard-forward Regan Hamilton (5-7) and guard Kynzi Bishop (5-7). Leonard and Kendall are one-year letterwinners, while Friday, Morris and Hiles are all two-year vets. Hamilton lettered as a freshman while Bishop lettered last winter.

“Gillian was a role player last year off the bench,” Baker said. “She had great ballhandling skills and will be the backup point guard.

“Morgan missed half of last season due to injury but she gives us depth at the point guard position,” Baker added. “She’s a very good defender, as well.

“Kalista is a great ballhandler and scorer,” Baker noted. “She sees the floor and really became comfortable running the offense last year. She has a very high basketball IQ and continues to improve her game.”

Friday led Monroe Central in scoring (16.7), assists (6.1) and steals (3.9) last season. She is also a very good outside shooter with a team-best 55 bonus goals a year ago.

“Trista is another good ballhandler and will be looked to for some more scoring this season,” Baker allowed. “She is also a very good defender on the ball and has a lot of energy.”

Morris averaged 5.6 points last season and was third on the team with 24 three-point goals.

“Haylyn has great all-around skills,” Baker revealed. “She’s an excellent shooter and we’re looking for more scoring from her as well.”

Hiles was second on the team with 48 treys and scored at a 9.7 clip.

“Regan didn’t play last year,” Baker recalled. “She has shown improvement and will be able to play multiple positions for us.

“Kynzi is still young but has great potential to become a inside/outside threat,” the coach said. “She has good overall skills and rebounds very good. She’s a natural talent.”

The Monroe Central roster is rounded out by junior Hailie Hoyt (5-5); sophomores in guard Grace Rainey (5-6) and forward Crystal Powell (5-7); and freshmen in guard/forward Riley Bettinger (5-10), forward Jaysa Henthorn (5-10) and guard/forward Karli Weckbacher (5-4).

“Hailie is playing for the first time and will mainly see JV time while Grace is a good shooter who didn’t play last season,” Baker said. “Riley has great energy and has great athleticism and quickness. She works extremely hard.”

Baker said Powell, Henthorn and Weckbacher are all ticketed for JV time.

Picking up diplomas following last season were Amy Bettinger, Allee Zwick and Haven Dick.

Baker is assisted by Doug Yoho and Trevor Friday.

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