State Fair coach Kevin Bucher feels good about the future of the Lady Roadrunners.
“I really feel we’ll be one of the more dominant teams in our region next year,” he said. “Recruiting’s gone very well. We by far had the toughest schedule this year. Some of those teams are nationally ranked.”
After a 21-10 season, Bucher hopes to get many of his freshmen back for a second season.
“The last several years we have not had a lot of freshmen back,” he said. “This is going to be the first class in a long time where we’re going to have a big nucleus back.”
That freshman class includes two all-region players, guards Adella Randle-El and Antoinette Taylor. Taylor averaged 14.2 points per game and Randle-El wasn’t far behind with 10.8.
“Both of them were really good scorers for us,” Bucher said. “They were second and third in the league in scoring. They put the ball in the hole whether attacking the glass or shooting. They were consistent.”
They headlined a team with a balanced scoring attack. Sophomore Mia Wesley finished just behind Randle-El, averaging 10.7 points per game. Not far behind her were freshmen guards Sannayiah Johnson and Apiphany Woods.
“Over the years most of our teams have been really balanced,” Bucher said. “Our guards were really good at getting us scoring opportunities when we needed it. Usually our teams are known for having a well-balanced attack.”
And with a roster that featured just three sophomores, Bucher is confident most of that scoring will return.
“I think we get 85 percent of our offense coming back,” he said. “We have a bright future ahead if they all come back.”
Much of that scoring came from the backcourt, however, and Bucher is looking to develop more low-post players. Freshmen forwards Julia Torres and Narel Santos could be back next year, and Bucher said he has been out on the recruiting trail looking for additional post players.
State Fair will enter the 2013-14 season without Wesley, the Philadelphia native who started all 31 games as a sophomore after transferring from Butler Community College.
“She was an example for every player on our team,” Bucher said. “She was always working out and dedicating herself to basketball. I have the highest respect for Mia.”
Another sophomore the Lady Roadrunners will be without is forward Kaitlyn Mercer, who averaged 2.7 rebounds per game.
“She gave us valuable time and we look forward to helping her move on,” Bucher said.
One sophomore who may not be leaving is guard Kaci Cason, who could qualify for a medical redshirt after missing much of her two seasons with injuries. She played in 11 games this season but did come up big, hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the regional quarterfinal win over Mineral Area.
“I was so happy for her at the end of the ballgame against Mineral Area,” Bucher said. “She’s probably played five games, but she gave us a win with a 3-pointer. I know she was getting better and better.”
The team that will return will have plenty of experience, but those experienced players will be facing a tough schedule next season.
“We have trips lined up to Utah and against national power teams,” Bucher said.