ONTARIO — The Ontario Warriors are going to take as much time as they need to in 2023-24.
Everything from finding the perfect starting lineup all the way down to making sure they take the most effective shot, the Warriors will show plenty of patience during the upcoming girls basketball season. After going 9-14 last year and losing six seniors from the 2022-23 squad along with three starters, the Warriors bring back eight letter winners and two starters for a chance to turn that record around.
“Finding the right combination of players that plays well together is the key for this team,” First-year Ontario coach Tracy Baxter said.
Baxter took over in the middle of the season last year so she knows her roster well. But every starting spot is up for grabs.
“It is too early to know our starters,” Baxter said. “We have a senior-led team with talented underclassmen. Any of them could start.”
The key returner is senior Taylor Counts who earned honorable mention All-Northwest District honors a year ago and is the only returner with postseason accolades to her credit. Fellow seniors Ka’Mashya Shaw, Olivia Kreger, Trista Jewell and Ella Shaffer will all see time in varsity action while juniors Katie Pollock and Eden Howard also return after contributing as sophomores a year ago.
Juniors Kennedy Weiler, Nissi Powers and Leila Stevens along with seniors Jahniya Likely and Willa Morris and sophomore Paradise Jeru all saw valuable time on junior varsity last year. The Warriors also had a very good freshman team consisting of Gracy Miller, Joelle Ly, Elaina Owens, Kenzie Goodlin, Hayden Sexton, Addi Puttman, Brinlee Kreger and Morgan Pearson and all of them have a chance to contribute as sophomores.
“We have quite a few newcomers and we expect they will all contribute right away,” Baxter said. “This is a brand new coaching staff so everything is different. We have a good group of girls this year and they have a positive outlook for the season.”
The Warriors went 7-7 in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last year finishing in the middle of the pack. They hope to win more league games and be in the running at the end of the year.
“All the teams in the conference are well-coached and anyone can win on any given day,” Baxter said. “As far as where our team fits in, this is my first year as the head of the program so we are just going to try to be competitive every night. The second time we play every team, we will have a better idea of where we stand.”
The Warriors begin their season on Wednesday at home against Mount Vernon.