West Jeff girls ready for breakout season

Chris Miles Sports Editor

November 29, 2013

Expectation levels are on the rise for the West Jefferson High School girls basketball team.

The Lady Roughriders return four starters and seven letterwinners to a team that at times played well last season. Being a year older and hopefully a year better has West Jeff looking strong, but coach Tim Converse points out there is still plenty of work to be done.

“I feel good about having the kids we have back and we have some new kids coming in that can play,” Converse said. “Having so many experienced kids is beneficial, but we still have a lot of work to do to integrate the new kids into the system.

“We have a lot of potential, but we’ve got a lot of things to take care of too.”

The coach will gladly welcome the return of starting guards in junior Josie Hume and senior Kelsey Kirkpatrick. Also back are junior forward Taylor Bowman and sophomore guard/forward Claire Sterling. This foursome played major minutes a year ago and gained valuable experience. Ideally they would be able to pick up where they left off, but that’s where the coach said his kids need to continue to work hard.

“In general it’s about improving in all parts of the game,” Converse said. “You’re always worrying about offensive execution but we can go back and look at last year and there are plenty of areas we can still improve. But we do have a good group of girls that get along well together and want to get better.”

Also back this season are returning varsity letterwinners in sophomore guard Kennedy Campbell, senior forward Rylie Curry and junior guard Allison Haskins. Another player who figures to work her way in to varsity minutes is sophomore Ellie Defrank.

The remaining varsity roster has sophomores Katie Garen and Rachel Riggle along with Madison Gatley.

The Roughriders will find life in the new Mid-State League Ohio Division very competitive as a whole host of teams are expected to be strong.

“We have some unknowns in the new league,” Converse said. “I know Worthington Christian and Bexley have traditionally been good teams. But schools like Whitehall and (Columbus) Academy are unknowns. I really think the Madison County schools are going to surprise some people in the new league. It’s going to be interesting. I’m looking forward to it.”

With more experienced guards, West Jefferson should be able to dictate tempo and get out and run when it wants to.

“I’m optimistic about this team,” the coach said. “We’ve got a really good group of girls.”