There is a heightened level of expectation for the London High School girls basketball team and its coach Kevin Long.
The Lady Red Raiders return nearly every member of a team that advanced all the way to a Division II district semifinal last year before falling to Eastmoor Academy 47-46.
This London team is motivated to do more this winter, but while Long is encouraged by what he’s seen thus far he knows that nothing will be handed to his team.
“We know for the entire season there are plenty of things we need to continue to build on,” he said. “With this group we have a lot of experience, we’ve got versatility we can use and we can move the ball. We also have times where we can get too selfish. Other times we get too unselfish, so we’ve got to find the right balance.”
The London roster features the return of last year’s returning scorer and unquestioned leader in senior forward Emily Minner. Minner was the go-to option when the Red Raiders needed a basket last year and her game has continued to grow in the off season.
Also back are junior forward Malorie Colwell, senior post Hannah Coleman, senior guard Kaitlin Patterson, junior guard Karlie Alexander and senior guard Kiana Price.
“We’ve got a lot of girls capable of leading us on any given night,” Long said. “Emily returns as our leading scorer and has become more of a vocal leader. The seniors as a whole have become more vocal which is something we really didn’t see last year. When you see that leadership with the seniors, our juniors are becoming more confident and our sophomores are stepping up.”
This London team has shown the ability to shoot the ball well from distance and with Coleman and Colwell on the inside the team has improved offensively in the half court. But the Red Raiders are typically at their best when they can get out and run the floor.
“When this group is defending, boxing out and pushing the basketball we’re a pretty good team,” the coach said.
London is one of if not the favorite in the Mid-State League Ohio Division. The defending MSL champs will have to deal with being the hunted and the squad teams are aiming for.
“We are a couple steps ahead of where we were last year,” the coach said. “But then again the expectations are a lot higher. The bar has been raised and we have to get up to meet those expectations.
“We need to take it one game at a time, we can’t afford to get caught looking ahead. We know we have to play every night. We’ve got a target on our backs every night. We have to embrace the target and that role and come ready to play. Our non-league is tougher, we’re going to test ourselves.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.