With the departure of seven seniors from a season ago, including their leading scorer, starting center and point guard, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams will look to a small core of experienced and proven talent to carry them throughout the 2018-2019 season.
At the top of the key, the Lady Rams and head coach Tony Raffaele will rely on the decision making of junior Rian Schultz to lead the offense as part of a one-two punch with senior center Brei Ruelas.
Together the pair were second and third on the team in scoring last year at 10.1 and 9.4 points per-game respectively, and will be tasked with the bulk of the scoring effort this season.
Returning post-men Ara Daugherty and Stormy Lovern will also play vital roles as two of just four Lady Rams heading into the season with varsity experience.
Lovern played in all 34 games for the Lady Rams a year ago, while Daugherty saw minutes in all but two.
“[Our] returning players are good leaders, and they will mesh well with our younger players,” said Coach Raffaele. “It will take a few weeks for some of our players to get acclimated to varsity-level ball.”
Part of a new crop of talent to take the varsity stage, Lady Rams freshmen Jersey Davila and Hannah Seaton will be new additions this season.
Elsewhere, upperclassmen Paige Riney, Claire Rasmussen, and seniors Gretchen Evans and Rachel Carter will see their first season of basketball action in 2018-19.
“Seniors that did not play last year will have to contribute a lot this year,” Raffaele said. “This will be their first time with varsity basketball, but they are learning quickly.”
Hosting 5A O.D. Wyatt High School on Friday night, Nov. 2, for their 2018-19 season opener, the Lady Rams' season ramps up in a hurry with at least 10 games in the month of November.
That includes the Mineral Wells Tournament, Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
Later in the year, the Lady Rams begin District 7-4A competition against Stephenville on Jan. 4.
Part of a revamped D7, the Lady Rams will compete against the Honeybees as well as Glen Rose, Brownwood and Godley High School.
No walk in the park, the Lady Rams were eliminated from the postseason by Stepehenville in a bi-district match up last season.
Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers and Lady Lions were both 25+ win teams that met in the area round of the playoffs – a 42-31 Glen Rose victory. The Lady Tigers then beat Kennedale before falling to Denver City in the regional semifinals.
The pre-season district favorites, both Brownwood and Glen Rose also return all-state selections in Lady Lions senior Mallory Garcia and Lady Tiger junior Hailey Ibarra.
“We should always expect to compete no matter what the district is like. It should be a culture that we want to create,” Raffaele said. “This district is very tough, but if you can win in this district and region, you are pretty good.”