SOLON– Tony Nicol isn’t totally starting from scratch as he prepares the Lady Spartans for the 2013-2014 girl’s varsity basketball campaign, but he’s got a lot of work to do.
The Spartans finished 11-12 last season, good for third place in the WaMaC conference. That team featured six seniors: Kristen Purdy, Rachel Purdy, Kara Misel, Karly Kramer, Brittney Stinocher and Emma Rickels. In the wake of their graduations, Nicol finds himself with three returning starters.
Rylee Smith, a senior point guard, is back after earning a First Team All-Conference spot last season. Smith played in 25 games scoring 10.5 points per game. She made 37.2 percent of her field goals (80-215), almost 30 percent of her 3-point shots (14-47) and was a 60.7 percent shooter at the free throw line (68-112).
Also back are juniors Shelby Gunnels and Ali Herdliska. Gunnels is a post who played in 23 games last season making 30.4 percent (42-138) of her field goals and 64 percent of her free throws (25-39) averaging 4.7 points per game. Herdliska also had 23 games with an average of 4.8 points. Herdliska made 28.9 percent of her field goals (35-121), 27 percent of her three-bombs (10-37) and had 79.5 percent accuracy at the charity stripe (31-39).
“A strength of our team would be athleticism and work ethic,” Nicol said. “Areas for improvement would be shooting and lack of experience.” The coach sees Mount Vernon as the top pick and pointed out, “(it was) too early to tell where we fit in the conference. With only three players back with varsity experience, our team is a work in progress.” Nicol, in his second year as head coach, said the Spartans should be, “an exciting team to watch, with pressure defense and quick transitions.”
The season opened Tuesday, Nov. 26, at Central DeWitt, and the first home game is set for Tuesday, Dec. 3, as Western Dubuque visits with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.