Rangers have rough start, but believe all is possible

J. Patrick Eaken

        Northwood girls basketball has had trouble getting wins so far, at least in the non-conference schedule.
        The Rangers lost to Lake, 59-32, Lakota, 46-34, and Woodmore, 62-26. But the Flyers and Wildcats are expecting to have big seasons in a tough Northern Buckeye Conference, so it’s a good schedule for the Rangers to begin with.
        “We are young and players will make mistakes that young teams make. If we can stay strong minded and fight through tough games we’ll turn some heads this year,” Northwood coach Andrew Dickey said.
        Dickey has some talent brewing on his squad, and there is not a senior on the squad even though he returns six lettermen.
        “So going into the offseason knowing that I get two more years with these girls, my staff and decided to redesign our offense so that we could utilize our talents,” Dickey said. “So we plan on playing a faster tempo game on offense with a fierce defensive stance.”
        The Rangers opened the Toledo Area Athletic Conference season losing to Ottawa Hills, 50-21, but turned that around and got their first win over Maumee Valley, 67-60. Dickey was proud of his team’s effort against the Hawks, which is a much improved program in recent years.
        “It was one of the best games we've played in a very long time,” Dickey said. “We had three Rangers in double figures in rebounds and points. But we're also learning to play with one another right now.
        “We’ve had some very tough losses this season to Lake, Woodmore, Lakota and Ottawa Hills. Ottawa Hills, I think, was a good wake up call for the team because we know we didn't play like we should and can play. We've got a young roster that hasn't played many games together going against some very veteran teams with a lot of talent.”
        Northwood’s returning talent includes 5-foot-8 junior guard Emily Bowen, 5-8 junior forward, Ashlyn Rable, 5-11 sophomore Randi Wilson, 5-4 sophomore Meiah Smith, 5-6 freshman guard/forward Zoe Turner and 5-2 junior guard Gina Nagel, but he has some newfound depth as well.
        “(Junior Emily) Bowen has her mind set to be first team level defensive talent and I believe she will be. Rable and Wilson are planning on being rebounding machines this year. And coming off the bench for us Angelina Nagel will be a big surprise and a helpful sixth woman off the bench.”
        Dickey says his team worked hard in the offseason and he hopes it pays off.
        “My entire team put in a lot of work this summer. I challenged them all to a 50-day shooting challenge to which my girls shot of 42,000 shots,” Dickey said. “It was one of the best summers over ever had as a coach at Northwood.
        “Smith, Wilson and Rable, between their work life and social lives, managed to spend a ton of time in the gym and the weight room. Two sophomores on the team, Bethany Gillespie and Alayna Avalos, are two girls that also utilized the summer to improve themselves and this coach noticed.”
        Dickey has other up-and-coming players who are expected to fill roles
        “Juniors Elycia Barber and Angelina Nagel are going to be very important to us coming off the bench,” Dickey said. “Sophomores Alayna Avalos, Bethany Gillespie and Gabby Smith all will be needed to step up for the team. Freshmen girls Mikayla Hanley, Regan Grant, and Zoe Turner all will be intricate players for us.”
        So, how do the Rangers do in the TAAC? Dickey says his girls are going for it all.
        “It’s a tough league but I expect my girls to play for a league title this year. Because nothing less will satisfy them,” Dickey said.
        “I love being able to coach in a league like the TAAC. If you look at the quality of basketball we play in our league, you expect every game to be a battle. Toledo Christian has so many weapons and talent in addition to a very tough minded coach who expects nothing but the best out of his team. Ottawa Hills will always be a top tier team because they are so fundamentally sound and coached by one of the best in the state.
        “Maumee Valley and us are no longer the ‘newbies’ in the league and I know they will be hungry to win like us. And I’m excited to see how the new coaches at Cardinal Stritch and Emmanuel Christian do this season. 
        “We want to win. I’ve got a team that wants to just go out and scrap and battle with teams. We’ve got two of the top forwards in the league and a lot to prove to ourselves and in the TAAC.”


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