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Monroe to rely on its seniors

By KIM NORTH

Times Leader Sports Writer

WOODSFIELD — There’s excitement surrounding the Monroe Central girls basketball program this winter. And for good reason.

The Seminoles will take the court with one of the most experienced teams that head coach Troy Baker has had in his now 21 seasons at the helm.

“We are very excited to get the (season) started. We had a great summer,” Baker said. “I feel like we are very versatile and our focus is to improve every day and enjoy what we are doing.”

“I think our greatest strength will be that we can score in multiple ways,” he added.

Monroe Central fashioned a very good 17-6 record last season, but fell to Caldwell in its opening-round game of the Division IV sectional tournament. Only two seniors were graduated — they were Morgan Kendall and Gillian Leonard.

Baker has seven players back that have earned letters, including a trio of three-year vets in senior guards Kalista Friday (5-3) and Trista Morris (5-5), and senior guard/forward Haylyn Hiles (5-11).

Friday is the motor that makes the Seminoles run. She scored her 1,000th point last season.

“Kalista led the team last year in every category,” Baker noted. “She averaged five rebounds and 18.1 points a game. She is a great athlete and a basketball junkie. She is also a great shooter and tremendous ballhandler. She sees the floor and is an excellent passer. She makes everyone on the floor better.”

Morris missed 16 games last year due injuries she sustained in a car accident, but still managed to average 4.9 rebounds and 9.6 points an outing.

“Trista has a great motor and is a great on-ball defender,” Baker allowed. “She has also improved her shooting and ball handling skills over the years.

Hiles can play inside or outside.

“Haylyn has good range as a shooter. She led the team with 43 three-pointers,” Baker noted. “She is also capable of running the point guard position.”

Guard Hailie Hoyt (5-3) rounds out the senior class.

“Hailie is a great role player and works extremely hard,” Baker said.

Four juniors dot the roster, including two-year letter winner Kynzi Bishop (5-8).

“Kynzi is a great athlete who has continued to improve her basketball skills and knowledge of the game,” Baker continued. “She led the team in field goal percentage (55%).”

Abby Thompson (5-10) is another junior with experience.

“Abby lettered her freshman year, but decided not to play last year,” Baker said. “She is very athletic and has good ballhandling skills.”

The other juniors are guard/forward Crystal Powell (5-6) and forward Olivia Valkovic (5-6).

“Crystal can help in multiple ways and can play inside or out,” Baker said.

“This is Olivia’s first year out for basketball and she will provide us with some depth in the post off the bench.”

Sophomores Riley Bettinger (5-8), a guard/forward, and forward Jaysa Henthorn (5-9) both earned letters as freshmen.

“Riley has improved her shooting from last year,” Baker added. “She has a tremendous work ethic and will give us depth at both guard and forward. She will be asked to play many roles and positions.

“Jaysa is a good rebounder and has good shooting range.”

Freshmen are guard Kensington Hiles (5-5); guard/forward Kaleigha Harriman (5-6); forward Grace Swisher (5-7); forward Kirra Boyd (5-7); guard/forward Karlie Haslam (5-7) and guard/forward Lanie Largent (5-5).

Monroe Central has added a game with Waterford to replace St. Clairsville.

Assistant coaches are Doug Yoho and Trevor Friday.

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