Bryan’s girls basketball team will be guard oriented for the upcoming season, and with the talent they have coming back at that position, the Golden Bears have a chance at another successful season.
Seven letterwinners, including four veteran guards who have multiple years of varsity experience, headline a Bryan team that is coming off a 19-4 overall record, a 7-0 mark in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League and a Division II district runner-up finish last season.
Senior guards Addie Arnold (5-foot-6), Delilah Taylor (5-2) and Allie Zimmerman (5-4), along with junior guard Reese Grothaus (5-7), return to lead the Golden Bears. Sophomore forward Kailee Thiel (6-0), sophomore guard Ella Voigt (5-7) and junior forward Blayze Langenderfer (5-7) also gained valuable experience under veteran coach Todd Grosjean.
“I really like our guard play, it’s been pretty solid,” said Grosjean, who enters his 22nd year as coach (15th with Bryan) with a 285-179 record. “Ella Voigt’s kind of a wing, she can play the guard which gives us a little bit of depth as well and she can score the basketball.
“And then you’ve got Blayze Langenderfer as well. So we’ve got some kids that come back with experience. The JV team went 20-0 (last season), which those kids got a lot of confidence. (They’re) very competitive and battled us every day in practice, so they know what it takes to hopefully get to where we want to get to again.”
Grothaus averaged 10.6 points per game before suffering a season-ending knee injury in early January. Despite missing the last 13 contests, Grothaus earned honorable mention all-NWOAL and all-Northwest District in Division II.
Arnold (5.9 points per game) has earned honorable mention all-NWOAL the last two seasons, while Taylor and Zimmerman chipped in 5.0 and 3.4 points per game, respectively, in helping the Golden Bears win their second straight league title and make a solid tournament run. Bryan upended St. Marys Memorial (17-6 record) and Lima Bath (22-3) before falling to eventual state champion Napoleon 40-28 in a district final.
The Golden Bears, though, have a lot of height, length, rebounding and scoring to replace.
Five seniors who played a big role in that success graduated in the spring. Special mention all-Ohioan Shallyn Miley (10 points, 5.2 rebounds per game) was a two-time first-team all-NWOAL selection; McKendry Semer (10 ppg, 5.6 rpg) was a second-team all-NWOAL selection; Brooke Lamberson (5 ppg, 2.7 assists per game) earned honorable mention; and Kloee Antigo (3 ppg, 3 rpg) and Bre Long (3.2 ppg 2 rpg) also contributed.
Miley, Semer and Antigo were each 5-9 or taller and made a big difference on the glass as well.
“To replace the five seniors that we had, that’s been a priority,” Grosjean said. “We lost McKendry Semer who played for four years, so you had a lot of experience there. Shallyn played for three at the varsity level, probably would’ve played four if she hadn’t gotten injured her freshman year.
“Kloee Antigo, Brooke Lamberson and Bre Long obviously all just gave us outstanding leadership. We’ve got some kids that are trying to fill those shoes, but the thing that goes unnoticed, four of those five were our leading rebounders... So that’s what we’ve really tried to focus on in the preseason is making sure we’re all rebounding. That can’t fall on just one person’s shoulders; we’ve got to do it collectively.”
Junior Ella Miller (5-6), sophomore Ella Rau (5-8) and sophomore Marah Smith (5-4) are expected to contribute, while 6-3 seniors Lexi Alspaugh and Ellyn Murphy could make an impact.
“If they can play within the style that we want to play, they can give us some minutes as well,” Grosjean said. “We’re going to try to play as many kids as we can.
“We like to play a lot of kids and defensively, we’re going to try to get after people. We’ve kind of hung our hat on our defense, that’s going to be huge again for us this year.”
Bryan will be tested with some big-time nonleague games this season. The Golden Bears will open the season this weekend in the Lima Bath Kewpee Classic, which includes Lima Senior and Marion Local, and added Division III power Liberty-Benton to their nonconference slate as well.
“Our kids are going to have to be ready to go,” Grosjean said. “Last year’s over, we’ve still got to put in the work in practice and take it game by game and just hopefully improve as the season goes on.”