The more shots the better.
That’s going to be part of the game plan for the Salem High School girls’ basketball team this season, as the Lady Tigers hope to use strong defense and ball handling to help create much of their offense in 2020-21.
Salem is scheduled to open the season Friday, Nov. 20 by hosting Northwest Cedar Hill at the SHS gym (6 p.m. JV, varsity to follow). The Lady Tigers are then slated to host Plato Monday, Nov. 23. Attendance is by voucher-only. Each player will receive four vouchers per game.
Lady Tiger head coach Jake Reardon returns six varsity lettermen and four players with starting experience from last season’s 17-11 squad, which finished as SCA co-champion with a 6-1 mark.
“We were pretty lucky this summer,” said Reardon, entering his ninth season as Lady Tiger head coach. “We played 33 or 34 games in the offseason. It’s a pretty die-hard group; a bunch of gym rats.”
Salem returning players who started full-time or part-time last season are 5-6 junior guard Bella Jadwin, 5-7 senior guard Tatum Hatridge, 5-6 sophomore guard Savannah Manthey and 5-5 sophomore guard Ashton Bowers.
Rounding out this season’s varsity rotation are 5-4 senior guard Shelby Botkin, 5-9 sophomore forward Avery Erway, 5-7 sophomore guard Makayla Roos and 5-11 freshman forward Fayth Kaminski.
Manthey led the team in scoring and rebounding last season, averaging 9.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals while earning All-SCA second-team honors. Jadwin averaged 8.6 points, 3.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 steals to garner all-conference first-team.
The biggest loss to graduation was 5-11 Madison Woolf, who averaged 8.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
Lacking a lot of size, Salem will depend on its guard play to create scoring opportunities.
“Defense and tempo will be key for us,” Reardon said. “If we can speed you up and get you uncomfortable. Put pressure on the guards so they can’t get it down low. Our strength is not turning it over and trying to turn the opponents over.
“We have some shooters, and we spend a lot of time on that. With our personnel, for us to have the best chance to win, we’ve got to force 20 turnovers and shoot 70 times in a game. With our size we usually have a hard time winning the rebounding battle most nights. If we get 50-50, we usually feel we have a good chance.”
Like last season, Reardon figures to have a balanced offensive attack.
“We’ll spread it out,” he said. “Any of the five on the court for us can have a 20-point game.”
Reardon says the Lady Tigers will have their hands full attempting to defend their SCA crown.
“There are probably five teams who have a chance to win this year,” he said. “Thayer returns just about everybody, and they went to the (Class 2 State Tourney quarterfinals) last year.”
The schedule (subject to change due to COVID and weather):
Nov. 20 – Northwest Cedar Hill, 6 p.m.
Nov. 23 – Plato, 6 p.m.
Dec. 3 – at Steelville, 6 p.m.
Dec. 7-12 – Norwood Invitational
Dec. 14-18 – Sullivan Invitational
Dec. 26-30 – Mtn. Grove Family Pharmacy Holiday Tourney
Jan. 4 – Cabool, 6 p.m.
Jan. 11 – at Willow Springs, 6 p.m.
Jan. 14 – at Thayer, 6 p.m.
Jan. 19 – at Owensville, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 26 – Licking, 6 p.m.
Jan. 28 – at Sullivan, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 – Mtn. View Liberty, 6 p.m.
Feb. 4 – Mtn. Grove, 6 p.m.
Feb. 8 – at Cuba, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 – at Viburnum, 6 p.m.
Feb. 15 – at Ava, 6 p.m.
Feb. 18 – Houston, 6 p.m.
Feb. 22 – St. Clair, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 27-March 5 – District Tourney, tba