The Post Falls High girls basketball team graduated three starters and two other senior reserves off a team that finished 21-4 overall and took third at the State 5A tournament last year.
Trojans coach Chris Johnson has the difficult task of finding three starters and determining the roles for his supporting cast.
This could easily be termed a rebuilding year, for the Trojans, who opened the season with a 66-32 win over Moscow last Friday.
But that’s not a phrase you’ll find 5-foot-6-inch senior point guard and four-year starter Jordan Schoening using.
“We’re going to struggle at first, but I’m so excited to get on the court and play with my team,” Schoening said. “We’re going to be just as strong as last year. We just need to get everybody on the same page and we’ll be just as good.”
The Trojans’ other returning starter is junior 5-10 wing Katelyn Loper.
Loper and Schoening led in scoring last year, averaging 12 and 10 points respectively. They’ll be asked to increase their scoring this season.
If Post Falls returns to the level it left off at a year ago, it will have to be with defense.
“We’re practicing very hard and we’re very intense defensively, which is good because that’s going to have to be the basis of our success this year,” Johnson said. “It has to start first with defense. We graduated five seniors who were significant contributors. They all had starter-like minutes, quality time.”
In addition to Loper and Schoening, Post Falls returns five other letterwinners. They are seniors Aynslee Stuart (5-foot-7, g) and Karen Lohman (6-1, post), juniors Krysta Howard (5-9, w) and Danielle Meehan (5-8, p) and sophomore Tori Davenport (5-2, g).
Of those five, Davenport and Howard saw the most significant minutes. They along with Stuart, Lohman and Meehan are in the mix for starting jobs.
Four other players have earned varsity spots. They are junior Rebecca Bauman (5-10, p), sophomore Josie Tennison (5-8, w) and freshmen Shaundra Scott (5-6, g) and Rai Franklin (5-7, w).
The biggest question marks facing the Trojans are who will contribute on offense in addition to Loper and Schoening, and who will see the most minutes in the post.
“We need our posts to step up and exert themselves offensively and defensively,” Johnson said.
Howard, Lohman, Meehan and Bauman will divide the minutes. But those who step up will see considerably more time than the others, Johnson said.
“It’s been a pretty competitive position in practice,” Johnson said. “We hope to get something from each of them. Hopefully all of them will elevate their games.”
The other three Inland Empire League 5A teams have proven posts. So the Trojans will be challenged, especially defensively.
“We can’t get into a half-court game,” Johnson said. “That’s not our strength. We definitely need to play up tempo offensively and defensively.”
To that end, the Trojans will use full-court pressure most of the time, Johnson said.
“We can’t walk the ball up the court,” Johnson said. “We’re going to have to keep fresh bodies on the court all the time.”
But Johnson said that Schoening will be the one player who rarely leaves the court.
As far as where the offense will come from, Johnson has an idea.
“I’m hoping that a good portion of our points come out of our defense,” he said. “Defense has to be our personality. We have to match the intensity that we had defensively last year. We couldn’t really match up with most posts last year and we won’t be able to this year. So we’ll have to do it with team defense.”
The Trojans, who finished tied for second in league with Lake City behind eventual state champ Coeur d’Alene, upset CdA to capture the Region I championship.
CdA coach Dale Poffenroth said teams will have to be wary of Post Falls for two specific reasons.
“Jordan Schoening and Katelyn Loper will handle the ball and they’ll get their shots, but the question for them is who will get their rebounds,” Poffenroth said.
The Trojans open the season Friday at home against Moscow. Three of their first five league games are on the road against CdA, LC and Lewiston.
“We’re going to be tested early,” Johnson said.