HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR 2020-21 LED BY PENNER, HAWKINSON!!

By William

ELYRIA – When you have as much youth on the court as the Elyria Christian girls basketball team during the 2019-20 season, you expect bumps and that is just what the Lady Eagles had while still being able to finish out the season with a .500 mark at 11-11.

Once junior Connie Schott went down with a knee injury just five games into the season, the Lady Eagles were playing most of their game minutes with one senior, four sophomores and three freshmen.

“We are a very young team and during the last two years we have been focused on growth and improvement,” noted Lady Eagle Head Coach Greg Fields. “I was very pleased with the growth our team showed this season. Even games we lost; we were still competitive. I was extremely proud of the defense that the girls displayed each game. We had several games against teams ranked high in the state and our girls held most of these teams well below their season averages in scoring if not the lowest for their season.”

Speaking of defense, the Lady Eagles for the season held opponents to an average of just 32.2 points per game, holding oppenents to less than 25 points in a game seven times while only allowing more than 40 points in a game just seven times.

The team improved on offense by scoring 200 more points this season then the previous season while also shooting a higher percentage from the field.

Coach Fields noted a rough patch during mid-season, saying, “We had a rough patch in the middle of the season when we were struck with illness and injuries. It seemed to take a few games to get back into a rhythm when we had most of our girls back. The biggest stumble we experienced this season was the loss of Connie Schott during the first minute of our fifth game when she tore her ACL. At the time she was leading the team in scoring with nearly 10 points per game while being a difference maker on defense as well.”

Speaking of the injured junior Schott, Coach Fields added, “Connie has been very aggressive in her physical training after her ACL surgery. She is very motivated to build on her early success this season. She is one of the fastest girls I have ever seen, and I expect her to make a huge impact when she gets back on the court for her senior year.”

While the team only finished 11-11 overall, it was a huge improvement over the previous year when they only won five of 21 games. The Lady Eagles also scored a better than .500 mark in Wheat State League games by going 5-4.

Sophomore Kylee Penner led the team in scoring with 158 points for a game average of 7.5 while finishing second for the Lady Eagles in rebounding with 112, all of which earned her honorable mention honors for the All-Wheat State League team.

“Kylee (Penner) is extremely active on both ends of the court and just physically wears down opponents with her physicality,” explained Coach Fields when talking about his team leader. “Even though she is young, she is a leader by example both on and off the court.”

The lone senior on the team was Claire Adamyk, and Coach Fields said her leadership will be missed.

“Claire (Adamyk) never put up huge numbers, but she was a big reason why our team improved so much this year. She was our most consistent player, always doing the little things – keeping turnovers low, getting the loose balls, rebounding (she finished third on the team with 81), finding open teammates and keeping our team unified by bringing it a sense of family.”

While Coach Fields believed he could go on and on about the rest of the young players he did offer some notes about the rest of the team beyond Schott, Penner and Adamyk.

Among the youngsters were:

  • KiLynn Starburg, a sophomore, led the team in assists with 37 while finishing second in steals with 48 and topping the team in three-pointers made with 17. According to Coach Fields, “KiLynn is a great ball handler and was our leading three-point shooter this year. She has a very high basketball IQ and also led the team in assists.”
  • Sophomore Olivia Peters as in Coach Fields opinion, “The best defender in our league as I always gave her the assignment to shut down the opponent’s best defenders and she did a great job. She set a team record and I believe led the league in steals with 89 while also adding 77 deflections to her defensive stats as well. Peters is also improving on offense and ended up as our third leading scorer with 107 points.”
  • Olivia Clark, also a sophomore, is another guard with great knowledge of the game and is a tenacious defender who Coach Fields expects to contribute in some big ways next season.
  • Ryland Hawkinson, just a freshman, had an outstanding first season of varsity as she was near or on top of nearly every stat possible. Hawkinson finished second in scoring with 136 points or 6.2 points per game, while leading the team in both rebounds with 113 and blocked shots as she batted away a total of 27 for the season. She also found time on defense to score 62 deflections and make 47 steals. As Coach Fields noted, “Ryland put up some great numbers as a freshman, and is a very competitive young lady who is not satisfied with just being good. I’m excited to see the improvements she will make in the future.”
  • Alexus Swenson, another freshman, was Coach Fields most pleasant surprise this season. “She has a great outside shot and she came up big in several varsity games,” noted Coach Fields. “She is a very committed player and I know that she will work on her ball handling which combined with her shooting will make her one of the best guards I have coached.”
  • Allie Stone, the third freshman who found plenty of playing time, is incredibly athletic according to the coaching staff. As Coach Fields commented, “Allie stepped in as a freshman and turned some games around for us during the second half of the season. It was amazing to see her compete against some very good seniors this season and come out on the winning side of a lot of battles.”

With so many players returning next season, it is not hard for Coach Fields to be excited about the prospects ahead.

He concluded his post-season reflections by saying, “If our team will work individually on their offensive skills in the off-season, I expect similar improvements next season. I was proud of the way the team stepped up when needed. It’s going to be fun to work with this team next year. They are a very close group of girls and they have been excited with the improvements they have seen. We don’t have a lot of height, but we have a lot of speed and a decent amount of length. We should only be faster and stronger next season as the girls will be a year older and are committed to working on their own this summer and fall. If they work on their offensive fundamentals, they could end up achieving some great things in the future.”

ELYRIA CHRISTIAN LADY EAGLES 2019-20 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Leaders in Points Scored (Avg): Kylee Penner – 158 (7.5); Ryland Hawkinson – 136 (6.2); Olivia Peters – 107 (5.1); KiLynn Starburg – 80 (3.8).

Leaders in 3-Pointers Made: KiLynn Starburg – 17; Alexus Swenson – 11.

Leaders in Rebounds (Off/Def): Ryland Hawkinson – 113 (41/72); Kylee Penner – 112 (35/77); Claire Adamyk – 81 (27/54); Olivia Peters – 74 (28/46).

Leaders in Assists: KiLynn Starburg – 37; Olivia Peters – 30; Kylee Penner – 22; Ryland Hawkinson – 21.

Leaders in Steals: Olivia Peters – 89; KiLynn Starburg – 48; Ryland Hawkinson – 47; Allie Stone – 35; Kylee Penner – 29; Claire Adamyk – 28.

Leaders in Deflections: Olivia Peters – 77; KiLynn Starburg – 72; Ryland Hawkinson – 62; Allie Stone – 50.

Leaders in Blocked Shots: Ryland Hawkinson – 27; Kylee Penner – 13.

{Post is SPONSORED by CrossDove Writers}

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