Special to The Sun
After making a deep playoff run last year, Oklahoma Christian School girls basketball coach Mark Shuck believes the Lady Saints are ready to take the next step.
“We went 18-9 last season and have three starters back, so our expectations are pretty high for this year,” Shuck said. “And this is my second year at OCS, and I think the team is much more familiar with our system.”
The Lady Saints will have some experience on the floor with seniors Madeline Bowen and Leslie Shuck, and junior Nicole Aparicio back in the starting lineup.
Shuck will be joined in the backcourt by senior Abby Sanders. Shuck scored 5.1 points per game last year as a junior. Sanders was the team’s first guard off the bench last year, and one of their premier defenders.
Bowen and Aparicio will give OCS a strong presence in the paint. Aparicio is the team’s top returning scorer after averaging 7.9 points per game last year. Bowen was next with 6.2 points per game.
The Lady Saints will also look for Brittany Gonce to step into a larger role. She joined the team late last season, but provided a lot of athleticism.
“She wasn’t going to play last year and then she came out after the season started, so she was a little behind with offense and defense,” Mark Shuck said. “As the season went on she really caught up and was helping a lot. And now having gone through the preseason, we really expect a lot of good things from her.”
The biggest challenge for the Lady Saints will come on the offensive end. The team graduated Dani Childress, who shouldered much of the scoring load the past four years. Shuck looks for the three returning starters, as well as Gonce, to fill the void.
“I think we’re going to be a good defensive team, we can handle the ball well, but a lot of our roles will be changing,” the coach said. “The key will be how well we pick up the slack offensively.”
Oklahoma Christian School opens the season Thursday at the Luther Tournament.