Coach Jarrod Haines and the McClain Lady Tigers are hoping for a South Central Ohio League title and a long tournament run this season, despite losing three-year starting point guard Taylor Polley to a soccer injury.
“We should compete every night,” Haines told The Times-Gazette. “We want to put ourselves in a position to compete for a league title and make a long tournament run.”
Haines, who is in his fourth year as head coach and his ninth year in the program, said he hopes having a lineup of experienced starters will give the team a shot at meeting their goals.
But with Polley out for at least the next few weeks, Haines said it’s going to be tough to hold things together.
Polley averaged 17 points per game last season for the Tigers and played a key part in managing the court. Haines said her loss presents an opportunity for improvement.
“I’m looking to each of the girls to step up and fill the scoring and court management role that Polley filled,” he said.
That job is up to senior starters Malea Montavon, Lexie Barton and Beth Montgomery, who each bring experience to the table. Sophomore starters Maddy Stegbauer and Makenzie Montavon will also have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves this year.
“Our team chemistry and unity has vastly improved in the last year,” Haines said.
Haines said he expects a tough season based on how competitive the league is.
“Miami Trace, Chillicothe and Wilmington will be improved,” he said, “Washington Court House will be improved, not only that, but we also play Wheelersburg, Lynchburg-Clay and Circleville, so we have a pretty tough schedule.”
Despite talented rivals, McClain went 17-6 last year thanks in part to Polley’s scoring ability.
Haines said he hopes to beat that record this year.
“We’ll see,” he said.
David Wright is the sports editor for the Times-Gazette. He can be reached at 937-402-2570.