Change the perception and start a new legacy. Those are the main goals for the Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca girls’ basketball team for the 2016-17 season.
The Rockets are coming off of a 7-16 campaign, which is not what the players had hoped for, but it hasn’t diminished the enthusiasm of the program’s coach.
“Once again we came up short of our expectations last winter but I am still optimistic that with a great team attitude and effort we can change the perception of Lady Rocket basketball,” said Coach Justin Royal. “I don’t know if the girls truly realize the potential they have to do something special and start a new legacy for our program.”
The roster looks to be full of experience for the upcoming year. Returning starters are Taylor Weiler, Payton Beckmann, Jaysa Zoller, Brooklyn Nordhues and Meredith Clark. Other returning varsity members are Kayla Arnold, Jenna Siefken, Liv Wilhelm and Emma Bjork. Sarah Moss and several freshmen players will have the chance to contribute as well.
“Many of the underclassmen gained valuable varsity time last season and this summer,” said Royal. “We once again lack that large senior class or leaders, but I feel our junior class has been working for this moment.
“A lot relies on our mental toughness as I hope we have figured out that basketball talent doesn’t always equal success,” Royal said. “I think we are seeing that our hard work and toughness can make us competitive and win us games. I feel like our success is a decision and it is in the girls’ hands to decide how successful they can be.”
The Rockets’ season schedule figures to be a tough one this year and Coach Royal said a good start would be great.
“Some early season success could be helpful as we have had trouble the last couple years handling adversity at times,” said Royal. “I see us working throughout the season to improve together and become a competitive basketball team.”
Defense, or as Royal calls it, “the dirty work” can definitely make the difference between a win and a loss.
“I think that we have the athletes to outwork teams that we might not be as skilled as,” said Royal. “This is not always glamourous or easy, but I think the team wants to win bad enough that we will be more willing than our opponents to do these things that are necessary to win.”
While the team works to improve its defensive numbers, the offense will look to avoid miscues and create efficiency.
“As always, a team first attitude and team cohesiveness will be key,” Royal said.