BELLAIRE - You won't catch the Bellaire girls' basketball team looking ahead.
By ahead, Marci Bonar doesn't want her team focusing on anything but the quarter at hand as the Big Reds look to rebound from a 7-14 campaign.
"Last year was disappointing because we had such high hopes before the season," Bonar said.
"We didn't win the games we needed to win. I was awfully disappointed with our record, but that's really helped motivate the girls for this season.
"I think last year, at times, we got too far ahead of ourselves in looking ahead. We want to win the next quarter every time we play."
Bonar has sensed since the first day of practice this season one very noticeable characteristic of her squad, which she hopes pays dividends.
"The girls are sick of losing," Bonar said. "You can tell by how they're putting in their hours of practice that they're trying to change that."
Knowing that mentality and her personnel, Bonar simplified the Reds' goals without putting a number on victories.
"We want to get better every single day," Bonar said. "We also want to be better defensively. It's little things like that that we're really focusing on. If we do those things, the bigger things will come with it."
Bonar has been highly impressed with the work ethic of her squad as preparations have been ongoing for the past month.
"This year has been the practices we've ever had," Bonar said. "Every practice has been a great practice. These kids work hard, not just in spurts, but all of the time. We've been trying to instill that into the girls since I've gotten here and it feels like we're finally doing it."
The Reds lost three players to graduation, including leading scorer Katie Fry. Fry earned a bevy of postseason honors after pumping in better than 15 points a game. She's on the team at Wheeling Jesuit University.
Also graduated was leading rebounder Casey Garloch and Sara Swoyer.
Despite those losses, Bonar feels really good about going at least seven deep.
"That first seven, I would take them anywhere," Bonar said. "A great thing about those girls is that even though they're not all the most skilled players, they'll give 110 percent every time on they're on the floor, which is more than I can ask. I really like our quickness and speed, too. We're going to try to use that to our advantage. We need to cut down on our turnovers, too."
Senior Myleah Green is the Reds' leader on and off the court. The 5-foot-8 forward has the skills to play both inside and outside. She played during the fall with the Big Reds' boys team since so many of her teammates were members of the volleyball team.
"Myleah has gotten a lot better and has really improved her skills," Bonar said.
Junior Cari Crozier (5-8) is an adept perimeter shooter and, according to Bonar, her shot has gotten even better during the offseason.
"Cari is one of those girls who gives everything she has all the time," Bonar said. "You never have to question her heart and attitude. She cares about winning more than scoring, so she's a real true team player."
Sophomore Kierstyn Kidder is back to run the Reds' offense from the point guard spot. She was a solid contributor last year en route to earning a letter. She'll take on a greater scoring role this season.
"Kierstyn played a lot of travel ball during the spring and summer and has gotten a lot better," Bonar said. "There were times last year when I thought Kierstyn played timid, but she's playing with a lot more confidence now. She's shooting the basketball with a lot more confidence."
Junior Aubrey Ryan (5-8) saw spot duty in the starting lineup last season and will have a much larger role this season.
"Aubrey has improved on both ends of the floor, but on defense she's really gotten a lot better," Bonar said. "She can step out and shoot."
As for the fifth starting job, it's been a battle between sophomore guard Dallas Messenger (5-4), sophomore forward Elisha Gillespie (5-9) and freshman Nina Crook (5-7).
"Dallas tortures people on defense; Elisha has really worked hard on both ends of the floor and Nina is a pretty good shooter, so we feel good about all three of those girls," Bonar said.
Sophomore pivot Ariann Maupin (5-10) could also contribute on the low block.
Others vying for minutes include: junior Sarah Smith (5-9), junior Celine Myzgraf (5-7), freshmen Mary Garloch (5-2) and Tara Duffy (5-7).
"We lack somewhat in experience, but this group plays so hard all the time that that makes up for some of that inexperience," Bonar said.
With a bulk of the scoring missing, the Reds will rely on a "defensive tenacity" to create havoc and force the issue for teams. Bellaire wasn't one of the area's best defensive teams in terms of points allowed, but they also struggled on the glass as teams got countless second and third scoring opportunities.
"These girls like to get after it on the defensive end," Bonar said. "Last year, we had problems rebounding and boxing out. Our goal is to get better on the boards. We've worked really hard on that so far. Like always, we're tiny again, so we're going to have rely on full-court pressure and defense."
Bonar is in favor of the addition of two games to the Ohio basketball schedule, but without the addition of any weeks to the schedule, the basketball campaign is going to be an even bigger grind than it's been in the past.
"I like that it gives the girls another opportunity to play," Bonar said. "When you don't have a lot of numbers, however, it can be scary because of injuries and health-related reasons. There are going to be a couple of weeks where we have four games in a week."
The Reds added a home-and-home with Barnesville to the slate.
The Buckeye 8 should be highly competitive. Bellaire has two more seasons in the league.
"I think every game in the Buckeye 8 should be good," Bonar said. "You know going into those games that you're going to have to bring your 'A' game because every team has some talent."
Bonar's coaching staff has undergone a minor change. Alecia Mamie has stepped down as assistant. Bonar hired one of her former teammates, Amanda (Whitecotton) Collins, to serve as the top aide.
John Farrier is the eighth grade coach and Missy Duffy is the seventh grade coach.
The Big Reds open the season Monday at Buckeye Local.
Nov. 26 - at Buckeye Local
Nov. 29 - Bridgeport
Dec. 1 - St. John (Varsity only), 6 p.m.
Dec. 3 - Martins Ferry
Dec. 6 - at Indian Creek
Dec. 10 - Union Local
Dec. 13 - St. Clairsville
Dec. 15 - at Edison (Varsity only), 6 p.m.
Dec. 17 - Barnesville
Dec. 20 - Harrison Central
Dec. 22 - at St. John Central (Varsity only), 1 p.m.
Dec. 27 - at Bridgeport
Jan. 3 - Buckeye Local
Jan. 7 - at Martins Ferry
Jan. 10 - Indian Creek
Jan. 14 - at Union Local
Jan. 17 - at St. Clairsville
Jan. 21 - at Barnesville
Jan. 24 - Edison
Jan. 28 - at Harrison Central