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The Northern Lakes League is loaded with top returning talent this season.
Seven of the eight players who earned All-NLL first-team honors are back.
Perrysburg, which finished undefeated in league play last year, is led by All-Ohio post player Sarah Baer. The Yellow Jackets are picked by the NLL coaches to repeat as champions.
There are three starters and two other letter winners back for Perrysburg (23-2 overall, 14-0 NLL) which reached the Division I regional semifinal before losing to Notre Dame.
The Yellow Jackets suffered both losses to the Eagles.
The 6-foot-1 Baer, an All-Ohio second-team pick, is a tenacious rebounder. She committed to Bowling Green State University after averaging 13.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game last year.
“I really like this team,” Perrysburg coach Todd Sims said. “They work very hard and are focused for a great year.”
The Yellow Jackets earned five first-place votes in a preseason coaches’ poll, while Southview received three.
With four of five starters back, the Cougars have a good combination of size and speed that allows them to adjust to any style of play.
“We have all the pieces needed to be successful this year,” Southview coach Tim Nottke said. “Our team has continued the theme of working hard from the previous year, and we’ve improved skill-wise, so we are looking forward for great things this season.”
Southview (17-7) will be led by senior forward Taryn Stanley, who averaged 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Northview had won four straight NLL titles before last year. But coach Jerry Sigler has retired after 38 years. He led them to 18 league championships, nine the NLL and nine in the former Great Lakes League.
Brittaney Cymbolin, a former Evergreen player who coached in Florida the last three seasons, takes over at Northview this season, inheriting five starters from a 12-11 team.
Anthony Wayne coach Jeremy Terwilliger also has all five starters back from a 13-10 team.
“We expect to contend for a league title this season along with making a successful post-season run,” Terwilliger said.
Here is a look at the teams in predicted order of finish:
Coach: Todd Sims, fifth season
Last season: 23-2 overall, 14-0 NLL
Top players: Seniors Sarah Baer, 6-1, P; Abby Sattler, 5-5, PG; Kelsey Moore, 5-7, W. Juniors Allex Brown, 6-1, P; Lindy Delong, 5-9, W.
Outlook: The Yellow Jackets have experience, good shooters, and a tight-knit team.
Three starters are back along with five letter winners. Baer and Sattler, along with Brown and Delong, were the team’s leaders in minutes.
Baer provides a significant presence in the middle. Brown (10.8 points, 8.8 rebounds) provides a nice tandem with Baer in the post.
Sattler tallied 7.6 points and dished out 3.2 assists last season. Delong also returns after averaging 7.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds.
“We need to stay healthy,” said Sims, who has a 78-18 record in his four seasons and has had teams reach the D-I regional three times.
Coach: Tim Nottke, third season
Last season: 17-7, 12-2
Top players: Seniors Taryn Stanley, 5-9, F; Sarah Klepzig, 5-11, P; Lauren Huntsman, 5-6, G. Juniors Emily Westphal, 6-0, F; Maria Pappas, 5-6, PG.
Outlook: Four starters return and three other letter winners for Nottke.
“That will provide leadership for us this season,” said Nottke, who is 28-18 in two seasons.
Stanley earned All-NLL first team. Westphal tallied 6.6 points and grabbed 4.8 rebounds per game last season. Klepzig averaged 7.8 points and 4.4 boards.
Pappas (4.8 point, 2.5 assists) and Huntsman (4.2 points) also return.
But Nottke said his players must figure out each of their roles.
“The sooner that happens the quicker success will follow,” he said. “How we handle that will be important.”
Coach: Brittaney Cymbolin, first season
Last season: 12-11, 9-5
Top players: Juniors Maddie Fries, 5-4, G; Emily Campos, 5-9, F; Mackenzie Riggs, G; Kendall McCoy, 6-0, G/F; Maddie Cole, 6-1, F; Kendall Jessing, 6-1, F.
Outlook: Cymbolin inherits all five starters and six letter winners overall.
McCoy earned all-district and all-league first team after averaging 12.6 points and 6.1 rebounds. Jessing led the NLL in rebounding (9.5) and scored 11.6 points to earn all-district first team.
Cole grabbed 5.8 rebounds per game.
“Our strength is the return of our starting five,” Cymbolin said. “The varsity experience is key as we add seven newcomers to our roster.”
But the players are adjusting to a new system and coach.
“Our kids have come a long way and are working extra hard to make the needed alterations to their games,” Cymbolin said. “We’ve have been working hard on our team concept of family to build chemistry.”
Coach: Jeremy Terwilliger, third season
Last season: 13-10, 8-6
Top players: Seniors Jasmine Bonivel, 5-10, G; Megan Bedard, 5-10, G; Sara Zankl, 5-9, F; McKenzie Krieg, 5-8, F. Junior Abby Allen, 5-3 G.
Outlook: Terwilliger, who is 26-19 at AW, has all five starters back and two other letter winners returning.
Bonivel (9.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists) earned All-NLL first team.
Bedard (9.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists), Zankl (8.6 points, 5.0 rebounds), Krieg (5.1 points, 3.5 rebounds), and Allen (3.3 points) all started last season.
Terwilliger said defensive pressure should be a strength and his team should be able to pressure teams in both the half and full court. Team shooting from the perimeter and depth also are positives.
“We should be able to go nine to 10 deep without losing much,” he said.
But potential trouble areas include undersized post defense, physical play, and poor shooting nights.
“Our ladies have worked tremendously hard to overcome some of the problems that have plagued us the last two years, and if we are capable of addressing those problems, we should be able to compete on a nightly basis with the best in northwest Ohio,” Terwilliger said.
Coach: Steve Carroll, third season
Last season: 10-14, 4-10
Top players: Seniors Asia Goodwin, 5-8, F; Gabby Teifke, 5-10, F. Juniors Natalie Yoder, 5-4, G; Sydney Powhida, 5-7, G.
Outlook: Four starters return for the Blue Devils led by Yoder (13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds) and Powhida (11.0, 5.0). Powhida earned All-NLL first team honors.
Among six letter winners back are Teifke (5.0, 5.0) and Goodwin (4.0, 3.0).
Carroll said he likes his team’s chemistry, work ethic, and desire to win.
But he said his players need to learn to play consistently hard and smart on both ends of the court.
“We have a great group of kids to work with,” Carroll said. “We have been pushing them very hard this preseason, trying to get them ready for our tough league schedule. Our coaches and players are real excited for the season to get started.”
Coach: Jeff Nichols, 12th season
Last season: 13-10, 7-7
Top players: Seniors Hanna Williford, 5-8, G; Reagan Morman, 5-5, G. Juniors Livvy Dill, 6-1, F; Tyanna Smith, 6-0, F; Hailey Maas, 5-7, G; Baylee Bowers, 5-10, F. Freshman Kendal Glandorff, 5-10, G.
Outlook: Nichols said the Bobcats have athleticism and height, which will create match-up issues. He also said he has good ball handlers and will aggressively attack the basket.
“We hope to play fast as much as we can and utilize our transition offense,” Nichols said.
Four starters return including Williford, who averaged 12.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. Williford was named to the all-league first team.
Morman (7.0 points, 2.0 assists), Dill (9.0 points, 6.0 rebounds), and Smith (6.0 points, 6.0 rebounds) also started last season.
“That experience is valuable,” Nichols said.
But possible weaknesses include depth off the bench. Outside jump shooting is a concern as well.
“We are expecting a solid year,” Nichols said. “We want to improve on our 13 win campaign from last year and contend for a spot in the top half of the NLL. As our chemistry and timing come together, we hope to battle in every game and make nothing easy for the opponent.”
Coach: Kara Miller, second season
Last season: 5-18, 2-12
Top players: Seniors Lindsay Ferguson, 5-9, F; Alexa Sonnenberg, 5-6, G; Courtney Smith, 5-7, G/F; Mackenzie Chamberlain, 5-6, G/F. Juniors Beth Homan, 5-5, G; Kayla Gerken, 5-10, G/F; Mia Rausch, 5-7, G.
Outlook: Seven letter winners are back. Gerken earned All-NLL second team after scoring 9.8 points and grabbing 4.2 rebounds per game. Ferguson averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, while Smith tallied 5.0 points.
“Experience will be one of our main strengths,” Miller said. “We can use our quickness to put pressure on the ball and force turnovers.”
The Wildcats should also have more of an inside-outside presence in the half court.
But size is a huge area of concern.
“We will be outsized every night,” Miller said. “Our depth will be an area of concern. We have some people who are going to play new roles this year and will have to adjust quickly.”
Coach: Adam Russell, second season
Last season: 2-21, 0-14
Top players: Seniors Macy Stichler, 5-11, F/C; Catie Bergquist, 5-10, C; Chanda Chilupe, 5-7, F; Joyce Green, 5-3, G. Juniors Abbi Schultz, 5-4, G/F; Emily Krewson, 5-7, F/C. Sophomores Kalena Harris, 5-5, G; Evyn Kachenmeister, 5-6, F.
Outlook: Russell said he likes the team’s athleticism and chemistry.
“What we lack in experience, we make up for with good athletes,” he said. “Their instincts are their greatest asset. In addition, they push each other to get better every day.”
Only two starters and four letter winners are back.
Harris played in 17 games as a freshman and averaged 4.3 points and 1.7 rebounds. Kachenmeister scored 4.9 points and pulled down 5.1 rebounds, playing in 16 games as a freshman. Stichler and Schultz also saw varsity action.
But Russell said his young team lacks size.
“Both Evyn and Kalena will have a huge impact on how well we compete this season,” Russell said. “Macy and Emily will handle most of the action in the paint as undersized post players. They have to be physical."