• 81°

West Lincoln She-Bears young, but no strangers to the court

There are six of them.

Katelyn Dickerson, Mattie Floyd, Megan Gerald, Skylar Hall, Makayla Shelton and Elizabeth Stogner are all juniors on the West Lincoln girls basketball team. They represent the knot of the Bears’ experience, with no senior teammates to look up to or learn from, no one older or wiser to pass down lessons and experiences.

But that won’t be an excuse if they lose.

“I’m expecting a lot from these girls. Some of our juniors have been on the floor for two years, so they have to step up and fill our leadership role, and I think they can handle it,” said West Lincoln coach Brooks Smith. “Those six juniors are going to see a lot of playing time.”

It’s an old, strong tradition the she-Bears are expected to carry on at West Lincoln, and improvement over last season’s squad — which won six district games before getting smacked out of the playoffs in a low-scoring matchup with Heidelberg — is expected.

There was only one senior on that team, and the six juniors leading West Lincoln now were just sophomores. This fall and winter is their time to take the next step.

“We will go as far as the amount of time they put in to practice on their own,” Smith said. “The 50 minutes per day we spend together in the gym won’t cut it.”

The West Lincoln six know what they’re doing.

Last season, Gerald led the team in scoring with 345 points. She averaged 12 points, 3.8 rebounds and three assists per game. Hall was second on the team with 284 points, averaging 10 points per game and three rebounds. Both were 40 percent shooters.

Dickerson also had a high-output season last year, scoring 141 points total and averaging five rebounds per game. She, Gerald and Hall played in all 28 games.

Smith will rely on the juniors to control the flow of the team, but he will get a hand from a couple of tall sophomores — Paige Shedd and Bailey Wilson will earn playing time down in the paint. Wilson had significant playing time last season, scoring 114 points and securing almost four rebounds per game.

Having tall ladies underneath will help the Bears execute Smith’s go-fast game plan. The Lady Bears will push the ball up and down the court in a high-tempo offense that aims to break clear and gather up easy shots when available.

Smith has no worries about his team’s abilities. He praised former West Lincoln coach Lane Young, who Smith played under on the boys team.

“They’ve been well-coached before me. I’m just trying to fine-tune some things,” Smith said. “In order to succeed, all we have to do is work. Practice. Practice. Work. I can’t say that enough.”

Brooks Smith WL basketball