GLEN DALE - After finishing 13-10 and bowing out to rival Wheeling Park in the sectional final in his first season, John Marshall girls' coach Mark McCormick has far bigger destinations in mind. It will be tough though, because the Monarchs lost 1,000-point scorer Alexis Montes as well as Jenna Stephens on the inside, not to mention perimeter contributors Mallory Ball and Shannen Pegg.
''I'm excited about this year's team because of the good mix between experience and youth,'' McCormick said. ''I'm going to rely on the leadership of my four seniors to make sure we stay the course and take one game at a time, and at the same time bring along my young players quickly.''
John Marshall won't be as tall as it's been in the past but will more than make up for that with quickness on the outside. Back for her fourth season as the point guard is Kristin Lewicki (5-foot-3), the unquestioned sparkplug of the team.
She'll be joined by returning All-Valley first teamer Kylie Howard (5-8), who averaged a double-double by scoring 16.1 points and pulling down 11.5 rebounds.
''This combination gives me senior leadership and skill necessary to be successful,'' McCormick said.
Morgan Watson (5-7) and Brooke Vucelik (5-9) are the other two seniors. McCormick said Watson is one of the team's top defenders and ''does a lot that doesn't show up in a boxscore.'' Unfortunately, Vucelik suffered an injury and won't be able to compete, but will ''be a valuable asset during games as a valuable senior leader.''
The Monarchs are looking for big things out of junior Alyssa 'Sissy' George (5-3), who was a key cog in the school's run to a state softball title, as well as classmates Emily Winters (5-10) and Haille McClelland (5-9).
''Being new to our program she made an impact and added depth to our guards. I'm looking forward to see what she gives me this year,'' McCormick said of George.
Winters is a post player who ''saw some time as a sophomore spelling (Montes and Stephens),'' while McClelland is expecting to eat up key minutes in the post.
A pair of incoming freshmen, Bailey Filben (5-10) and Tori Derrow (6-0), are expected to see extended time on the varsity level, but ''will have to grow up quickly in order for us to have success,'' according to McCormick.
Also looking for playing time are sophomores Maggie Keylor and Abbie Namath.
''I will be able to do a lot more this year because of my quickness and the versatility of my players,'' McCormick said. ''In order to build on the success I had last year we are going to have be solid defensively, efficient on offense, rebound and not turn the ball over.
''If we do this, I feel we can be successful through the season as we ready ourselves for the postseason.''
McCormick is assisted by Melinda Yoho, Jeff Stephens, Stu Rynkievich and Tonya Lehman.