Head Coach Tony Johnson has potential up and down the roster
BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – Tony Johnson said there’s a different feeling to the Holy Trinity girls basketball team this season.
The Crusaders have the bulk of their scoring and rebounding back, and the education from last season has paid off.
“They know what I want,” Johnson said. “They know what we’re doing. And that’s a good thing.”
It’s building on the progression made during last season.
“I thought we made gains all year,” Johnson said. “I saw it in practice every night. You see it as a coach. The scoreboard doesn’t always show it. There were good teams down here. There were some games we could have won, but we didn’t have it. “
Four of the Crusaders’ five starters are back. The top five scorers and and four of the top five rebounders return.
That kind of experience has made a difference in the preseason.
“We’ve got 12 players, and I feel like we’ve got the right 12,” Johnson said. “They’re more vocal. Everything is different this season.”
The Crusaders are so deep, Johnson said it’s hard to figure out a starting lineup.
“I’ve got two seniors back (Raquel Schneider and Kassi Randolph) and then there is no drop-off to the rest,” Johnson said. “It’s a good problem for us.”
And this is a team that’s going to be together for a while.
Sophomore Mary Kate Bendlage was the team’s leading scorer last season, while junior Brooke Mueller was second.
Schneider was second on the team in points last season with 126 while leading the team with 96 rebounds. Randolph, who missed time late in the season with an ankle injury, averaged 7.4 points.
Randolph’s sister, Natalie, had a strong finish to the season, and Johnson has seen that carry over.
“Natalie has been tearing it up,” he said. “She’s shooting like crazy.”
Mueller started 18 games last season, finishing with 131 points and 82 rebounds.
“She knows how to play inside,” Johnson said.
Junior Kayla Box should see a bigger role this season after playing in 19 games last season.
“She was quietly effective,” Johnson said. “Always around the basket, always making plays. Knows the game.”
Sophomore center Reagan Holvoet is another player who will have an expanded role inside.
“You can see she’s figured things out,” Johnson said.
Freshman guard Teagan Snaadt also will play a significant role.
“She, on defense, is something else,” Johnson said. “Offensively, she can get to the basket. Defensively, if she gets a steal, she’s gone.”
Juniors Jenna DiPrima and Mary Hellige and freshmen Ellie Lake and Anna Bendlage give the Crusaders depth.
That kind of depth will allow the Crusaders to play at a faster pace on both ends.
“We’ll run, we’ll press more,” Johnson said. “There are some things we just couldn’t do last year. Now we can.”