The number of players on the Calvary Lutheran girls basketball roster is growing.
After playing with too few players to have a 5-on-5 scrimmage each of the past two seasons, the Lady Lions enter the 2023 season with 13 players, including a freshmen group of six. That larger roster will kick off the 2023-24 campaign hosting South Callaway at 5:30 p.m. today.
“We’re working on getting everybody up to speed and helping the freshmen learn what high school game speed looks like in comparison to what they were used to,” Calvary coach Ty Morris said.
The Lady Lions had no seniors on roster last season and return all but one player from last year, which ended the season 10-17.
This year, Calvary has three seniors in Syndey Morris, Juliana Fanning and Mikayla Yutzy. Ty Morris said the senior group has stepped into leadership roles with so many underclassmen on roster this season.
“I think Sydney has always been kind of a leader on the team, this year she continues in that role,” Ty Morris said. “I think Juliana and Mikayla both have, they’re coming in leading things in warmups, getting everybody ready to go. There is definitely more of a leadership vibe with both of them this year. … They’re doing that at school as well and in other things. I’ve seen a lot of growth in both of them this year.”
Sydney Morris and junior Maddy Sprengel return as the main production leaders on the court, while Ty Morris said Yutzy and junior Mahaila Brunner are both likely in the starting lineup, but the fifth spot is up for grabs early because both Fanning and junior Willow Spurling are dealing with injury or sickness keeping them out of preseason practice.
Ty Morris said freshmen Leah Thompson and Alayna Sprengel could get important minutes in their possible absence.
“My goal had been to not have to put any of the freshmen in as a heavy role to begin with, just because I wanted to give them time to get used to it,” Ty Morris said. “But I think they’re capable of doing it. Both of them, if they don’t end up starting, I would envision them both getting some minutes right away.”
He said freshman Sydney Volmert might also get early-season minutes.
Thompson, Alayna Sprengel and Volmert make up half the large freshmen group along with Kendall Brooks, Isabella Larkins and Alayna Bennett. There are no sophomores on roster this season and Mahaila Brunner, Sonya Brunner, Maddy Sprengel and Spurling make up the four-player junior class.
“There’s a really good vibe coming out of the team this season,” Ty Morris said. “Two years ago, I think we won three games. Last year, we won 10 and I think there’s this desire of the older girls to build on that. There’s a lot of potential in that. We haven’t necessarily had that fullness of energy as we get into a season.”
After playing South Callaway to start the season, the Lady Lions will play 12 home games, including a string of five consecutive to end the regular season.
The Lady Lions will host the Calvary Lutheran Tournament on Jan. 5-6 and will otherwise play no tournaments.
“We’re looking forward to the start of the season,” Ty Morris said. “We’re looking forward to giving these new girls opportunities to see what high school basketball looks like and we’re excited to get the season going here.”