BELOIT - Armed with one of the Rock Valley Conference's top players and a solid returning corps, the Beloit Turner girls basektball team is hoping for an improved season.
The Trojans finished 9-14 overall and 7-11 in conference play thanks in large measure to the terrific play of sophomore Olivia Tinder, who was first-team All-RVC selection.
Tinder put up 14 points and eight rebounds per game last season and Trojans head coach Nick Faralli said he expects big things again from Tinder.
"I'm expecting her to take another step forward," Faralli said. "Last year, she showed she could really carry the load for us as a sophomore. The beauty of Olivia is that she really does it all for us. She rebounds, she defends, she distributes. Since last year, she's really worked hard on her outside shooting. You can see it in practice, she's really shooting with confidence from anywhere on the floor. She's also gotten a lot stronger, and she's really set up to have a great year."
The question a year ago, from night to night: Who was going to help Tinder. Jennifer Njoo was that answer at times,as in when she drilled six 3-pointers to help beat Clinton.
"As a senior, we are looking for Jenn to step up and be consistent on both sides of the floor," Faralli said. "If we can get consistent production from her, that would be huge. We've also got Marlee Young, who has been a great defender for us the last two years. This year we'd love to get her an extra bucket per game to go along with that defense."
Junior Sabrina Fitzgerald will be the team's main point guard, while Faralli said A'Blesin Wilson will also play a significant role.
"Wilson was really a defensive specialist for us last year," Faralli said. "But now she's developed an ability to get into the lane, and she's shooting better from the outside. And Sabrina, there were times last year when she was in double digits for us. So that's really going to be the difference for us this year. We know that Olivia is going to put up good numbers every night. And we know we're going to give great effort defensively. It's just going to be a matter of how much our bench and our complementary players can give us."
Faralli said he believes depth can be a strength for this year's squad.
"Eventually we think we can go 10 strong with this team," Faralli said. "We've got a really strong junior and senior class. We've got some juniors that haven't seen any varsity time but have been waiting on their opportunity. Brinley Wilson and Presley Hasse will both have a role on this team, and we think we've got some other pieces as well."
Overall, the Turner staff is optimistic about his team's outlook.
"We're excited about this season," Faralli said. "In the past in this league, there was always one or two teams at the top where you knew exactly what you were getting. This year, from one through 10, every night it's going to be whichever team executes better can win the game. I wouldn't be surprised if we can finish over .500 in conference and be in the top half if we play well. But if we don't play well, we could be around that seven win mark again. But we're excited about the opportunity to show that we can compete with anyone."
• UP NEXT: The Trojans will open play Tuesday night at Burlington.