Connor Skeen did a lot of growing up last season.
The 5-foot-10 center for the Grandview Heights High School girls basketball team was thrust into a leadership role a year early, with the Bobcats having no seniors. That experience could pay dividends this season as the Bobcats look to improve on a 2-19 overall record.
"That gave me a chance to experience what it's like to be a leader, so it's not as new to me now," said Skeen, a senior whose team opened Nov. 27 against Columbus School for Girls before beginning MSL-Cardinal Division play Saturday, Dec. 1, at home against Fisher Catholic. "That can help me be a better example for the incoming freshmen we have this season."
The Bobcats finished last season by losing to Heath 41-19 in the first round of the Division III district tournament. They went 2-12 in the MSL-Cardinal to place seventh, behind Liberty Union (14-0), Harvest Prep (9-5), West Jefferson (9-5), Licking Heights (8-6), Berne Union (7-7) and Fisher Catholic (7-7) and ahead of Millersport (0-14).
Grandview returns four starters from a team that had only juniors and freshmen. Skeen, who averaged a team-leading 7.8 points per game, started along with sophomores Ali Lachey (5-8, guard), Megan McCauley (5-4, point guard) and Grace Palmer (5-7, forward).
Palmer averaged a team-leading 10.5 rebounds per game and was second-team all-league. McCauley was honorable mention all-league.
The other starter, senior Abby Riggs, is not playing this season.
"These kids work hard. There wasn't a game or a scrimmage last year that they didn't work hard to get better," said first-year coach Michelle Chavanne, who was an assistant under coach Randy Darst a year ago in his only season with the program. "They gained a lot of experience. This year, we have eight kids with varsity experience, so it's easier to simulate things in practice."
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Emma Bulla (5-3, guard), Madison Osborne (5-4, guard), Morgan Taylor (5-7, forward) and Allison Voelker (5-9, forward).
Freshmen Andi Abbruzzese (4-11, guard) Isabelle Esber (5-9, center), Mackenzie Gilliam (5-7, forward), Spenser Jackson (5-6, forward), Taylor Oberschlake (5-6, guard) and Kylee Ramey (5-2, guard) will play j.v. but may see some time on varsity.
"They listen, they absorb things and they are getting better," Chavanne said. "I told the girls that this is their second year on varsity and they need to continue to work hard, keep competing and they will get better."
Skeen already has seen improvement.
"We really look a lot better than we did last season," she said. "Last year, with a lot of freshmen playing, we had no idea of the speed of the j.v. game, let alone varsity basketball. This year we can focus on the fundamentals of the game instead of the pace of the game. We'll definitely be a better team this year."