The Briarwood Academy Lady Buccaneers face two "unknowns" when they open the girl's varsity 2008 basketball season next Tuesday, Nov. 18, by traveling to Bellville to face Pinewood Christian Academy at 6 p.m.
The first unknown is the teams since Briarwood has moved from Class AA to Class A. The second is "being able to score effectively" as the Lady Bucs lost heavily to graduation, according to Coach Clayton Parrish.
"We won't know (about scoring) until we put the inexperienced girls out there and play," Coach Parrish said, adding that the Lady Bucs "strong point" this year is the guard position.
The season opener for all of the Bucs basketball teams is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 24, versus Nathanael Greene Academy. The Runnin' Bucs as well as both B-teams will play unless the Bucs advance to the finals for the GISA Class A state football championship.
The Lady Bucs got a late start beginning practice for this season due to the success of the Lady Bucs' softball team, but came out in good shape, according to Coach Parrish, who said he's "really excited" about this year's team.
"I'm looking forward to seeing us do good things, and I think we can, Coach Parrish said.
"I've been very pleased with the effort the girls have been giving in practice. They're in good shape. They've been working extremely hard and steadily improving.
"We're mainly working on utilizing our athletic ability - a lot of full court pressing and aggressive half court defense," Coach Parrish added.
The Lady Bucs have two starters returning. Junior shooting guard Brittini Phelps averaged 9.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last year, while sophomore point guard Maria Johnson averaged 6.2 points and 3.2 assists per game. Sophomore forward post Maggie Keen saw a great deal of playing time last year, according to Coach Parrish.
Others returning from last year's team include senior guard Jamie Russell, junior guard Lizzie Keen, sophomore point guard Emily Henderson and sophomore center Morgan Reese.
The team should also receive help from senior forward Sarah Nutial, who has not played since her freshman year.
The Lady Bucs have already suffered in a loss in junior Taylor Echols, who is probably out for the season with a torn ACL, according to Parrish.
The Lady Bucs have a "super athletic" freshmen class, Coach Parrish said of the five freshmen out for the team. They include forward Ashlyn Dent and guards Rachel Coxwell, Kristian Dawson, Shannon Newsome and Brandy Ray.
Region 1A teams the Bucs and Lady Bucs will be competing with for the region title include Thomas Jefferson Academy of Louisville, John Hancock Academy of Sparta, David Emanuel Academy of Stillmore and Twiggs Academy of Jeffersonville.
The Runnin'Bucs, minus those playing football, are practicing daily, according to Coach Bo Fleming.
The Bucs have three starters returning as a nucleus for this year's team. Senior guard Price Chalker, senior point guard Ryan Gerlach and junior forward Trey Stadler were all key players for last year's Bucs. Chalker and Gerlach are the only seniors on the Bucs' squad.
Others returning from last year's team include juniors - Stadler, guard Matthew McElveen, guard Andrew Coxwell, guard Carson Wiley and forward Thomas Lynam and sophomores - guard Blake Sowell and forwards Ryan Nelson, Tyler Edwards, Charlie Cox and Steven Gunn.
The Runnin' Bucs have five freshmen playing varsity ball for the first time. They include forward Tyler Daniels and guards Ryan Pritchett, Dalton Reese, Spencer Hadden, and Will Souther. Souther is expected to be out most of the season with a broken leg suffered in last Friday's football game versus Young Americans Christian School.
The Bucs who are currently practicing basketball are Chalker, Gerlach, Lynam, Coxwell, Cox, Reese and Daniels.