SHADYSIDE - The Shadyside Tigers don't hesitate in talking about their goals, especially since they've not changed in the last three years.
Just two years removed from finishing with an undefeated record in the regular season and reaching the Division IV State Girls Basketball Tournament, Shadyside is gearing up for another possible deep run into March as it welcomes back four key contributors from a 20-4 squad.
''Since this group of girls has been little, it's been installed in them about setting the goal to get to the state tournament and win the state championship,'' Shadyside coach Tina Yates said.
While the Tigers finished with the a strong record, the sting of last season has resonated through the summer, fall and preseason workouts. Shadyside was sent packing in the district final by Hiland and also came up short in the OVAC 2A Tournament, falling to Wheeling Central in the title game.
''Those were two of our big goals that we set and we came up short,'' Yates said. ''In the OVAC game, I just think we were zoned out for whatever reason and not ready to play. The district game was nip-and-tuck the whole way, but I think we were physically drained from the tough semifinal game (against Garaway).''
While the Tigers are gearing up for yet another challenging regular-season schedule, Yates hasn't been afraid to throw around other teams that could stand in Shadyside's way come March.
''I talk about it quite often,'' Yates said. ''Our season is all focused toward our district. We can't overlook any games on our regular season schedule because it's pretty brutal, but we built that kind of schedule with the district in mind.''
The Tigers will be led by what Yates believes to be the best backcourt in the Ohio Valley.
Seniors Karli Bonar and Hayley Holenka are the on- and off-court leaders for the team.
Bonar, a 5-foot-7 shooting guard, is deadly from 3-point range. She knocked down 102 3-pointers last winter, which ranks third in Ohio history. She averaged 17 points a game and was named first team all-Ohio.
The University of Findlay signee is just a 24 points shy of 1,000 in her career and with another good shooting season, could make a serious run at the Ohio record for 3-point goals in a career.
Holenka (5-7) is a defensive dynamo. She's also expected to surpass the 1,000-point mark, which will make her the third member of her family to do so. Her older sisters Ashley and Shayla rank amongst the highest scorers in Tigers history.
Holenka scored nearly 15 points a game last season and she's capable of shooting the ball from the perimeter or taking the ball to the bucket.
Senior Kristen Fijalkowski (5-10) is a solid defensive player and returns to a starting spot in the frontcourt.
Junior Toni Andes is also back as a returning starter. The 5-5 point guard is the lone junior on the roster.
The fifth starting spot has been a battle between sophomore Kenzie Fielding (5-11), who saw quality minutes last season off the bench. She's being pushed by senior Dana Jackson (5-11).
''Kenzie is pretty athletic and Dana has been working hard and really understands the game well,'' Yates said.
Sophomore Shelby Benedetta (5-9) is expected to see varsity minutes, but she's been slowed in the preseason with an ankle injury.
Senior Lauren May (5-7), who missed all of last season with an injury, is on the shelf once again, but Yates thinks she'll be able to return in January.
Two other seniors battling to get into the rotation are Jacey Eneix (5-7) and Alicia Gulley (5-7). Sophomore Samantha Habig (5-7) is also trying to get into the rotation.