By Wade Linville –
The Western Brown Lady Broncos hit the hardwood this season with hopes of climbing back to the top of the Southern Buckeye Athletic/Academic Conference American Division after finishing as league runner-up last season, but in Dennis Overstake’s second year as Western Brown’s head coach he knows the task will not be easy.
Not only will they face league opponents with a great deal of experience and talent, but the Lady Broncos are looking for new leaders on the court in the wake of losing eight seniors to graduation and all of last year’s starters.
Expect this year’s Lady Broncos to improve as they gain varsity experience while making their way through another grueling regular season schedule, coming off an overall record of 11-13 and a league record of 5-5 from the 2015-16 season.
“Our schedule is just as strong as it was last year,” said Overstake. “We have to take each game as they come, and hopefully we will continue to improve. We have a good group this year and the girls are working hard. I hope this group realizes what they are capable of.”
Only three seniors appear on this year’s Western Brown varsity girls roster – Taylor Barthel, Bailie Darnall, and Kaitlyn Huseman.
Barthel, a 6’1″ forward, will provide the Lady Broncos with some size and experience in the paint after getting some varsity playing time coming off the bench last season.
Expect Darnall to provide this year’s Lady Broncos with some leadership on the court in her first year as a regular varsity starter.
Huseman spent last season on the sidelines due to an injury, looking forward to getting the opportunity to contribute to her team’s success as a senior leader.
Joining the three seniors on varsity are seven juniors who you can expect improvements from as they gain additional varsity experience.
Among the juniors is guard Cana Kleemeyer who only played half a season last year due to injury.
Other juniors include guards Amanda Woodyard (5’4″), Emily Cooper (5’4″), and Maddy Whisman (5’6″); as well as forwards Courtney Crisp (5’7″), Tessa Pinkerton (5’9″) and 6’1″ center Rylie Young.
Rounding out the Lady Broncos’ varsity roster is 5’5″ freshman guard Gracie Fischer.
Look for size and versatility to be among the Lady Broncos’ strong points this season.
“We have two girls over six-feet tall and Kaitlyn (Huseman) is very strong inside, and with Bailie (Darnall) and Tessa (Pinkerton) we actually have five post players. Bailie and Tessa will also play wings for us when we have the other girls inside,” said Overstake. “We can interchange a lot of people, so that’s one of our strengths.”
While the climb to the top of the SBAAC American Division may be steep, the Lady Broncos certainly have the talent it will take to accomplish their goals.
“They’re all willing to do what it takes to accomplish their team goals – to win the (Brown County) Holiday Tournament, then win the league, and then when it comes tournament time to get through the sectionals,” said Overstake.