STEWART- Year two of the Jeff McKibben era appears as though it could be a good one for the girls basketball team at Federal Hocking High School.
Now two years removed from a winless campaign, the Lancers managed to gain some ground last season in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division. The Lancer girls went 4-12 in their division and even won a district playoff game before ending their campaign at 5-16.
"I'd like to double our win total. I think that's a reachable goal for these kids," said McKibben, who will be assisted by Theresa Fairbrother and Hannah McKibben.
Seven letter winners from last winter return for the Lancers and the good news is they are all still underclassmen. Guard Carley Tabler was the only Lancer to make all-TVC Hocking and did so as a freshman.
Junior pivot Cheyenne Singer, a double-double threat each time she takes the court, is joined by fellow lettermen Ashton Cale and Whitney Gillian, a pair of 11th-grade guards. Aside from Tabler, coach McKibben also returns three other letter winners in the sophomore class thanks to guard Claudia Barnhart along with forwards Megan Thompson and Taylor Carr.
"We've got 22 (regular season) games this year, but what's funny is we only have nine at home," added the coach, whose team is likely going to be without the services of Carr for the first couple games of the year due to injury.
"Our expectations are to win more basketball games. We've only got one senior, but I think we'll be OK."
The lone senior is Warren transfer guard/forward Ashley Roberts, who according to the coach "had to sit out last year" because of transfer rules.
Perhaps the biggest problem for the Lancers is that they are "just guard strong" said McKibben.
Also vying for playing time this winter is junior forward Laken Clark, 10th-grader forward Zoey Bennett Wolfe along with two freshmen in guards Chelsey Washburn and McKensie Steele.
While everyone is going to have to come together as a team if Federal Hocking is to attain its goals this season, coach McKibben knows he's got some solid talent.
"Cheyenne is an exceptional person," he said. "She's in the gym all the time. Cheyenne is a leader to the other kids."
And on his all-TVC Hocking guard Tabler he noted "we threw a lot on her shoulders (as a freshman) and you can see the growth. She has grown and her maturity level has increased."