With four returning starters, the Johnstown-Monroe High School girls basketball team looks to improve on its 7-14 record from last season.

With four returning starters, the Johnstown-Monroe High School girls basketball team looks to improve on its 7-14 record from last season.

But fifth-year coach Connie Allen knows that those four players also are the only returning letterwinners for the Johnnies, so experience from the bench could be a problem.

"Our four returning starters are our strength with their speed and experience," said Allen, whose team's season ended with a 38-30 loss to West Jefferson in the first round of the Division III district tournament. "We will have a guard-oriented offense and because of our size we don't really have a post."

Senior Chelsea Cannon, a 5-foot-9 forward, is the top returning scorer for the Johnnies as she averaged 13.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Junior point guard Courtney Dingess (5-4) is back after averaging 6.6 points, 1.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals. Junior guard and forward Michelle Fairchild (5-5) is another returning starter after averaged 4.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals. Katie Furr, a 5-6 guard and forward, is the final returnee.

"I think our No. 1 strength is team chemistry," Cannon said. "We all get along well and they have a lot of potential because we all click and get up and down the court well."

Chelsea Sager, a 5-10 forward, returns after playing as a sophomore and not playing last year.

"The offense we run is very aggressive with more girls looking to score and attack the basket," Allen said. "This year, they're looking to score instead of looking for someone else to do it."

Also on team are junior Katie May (5-9 forward) and sophomores Lydia Ulry (5-9 forward), Holly Sammons (5-4 guard) and Sarah Scovell (5-9 forward).

"One thing we need to work on is communication. We need to talk to each other," said Allen, who is assisted by Aimee Babb. "We need to play at a consistent level because we have a tendency to let up during certain quarters."

Last season, the Johnnies went 4-10 in the MBC to tie Danville for sixth behind Fredericktown (14-0), Utica (11-3), Loudonville (9-5), East Knox (7-7) and Centerburg (6-8) and ahead of Northridge (2-12).

"Utica will reload and Danville didn't lose anyone from last year and I expect Loudonville to be good," Allen said.

The Johnnies will open Saturday with a non-league game at home against Heath before opening their league schedule begins Thursday at home against Utica.

"We start off against two pretty good teams," Allen said. "We'll be tested from opening of the season."

The Johnnies play Dec. 6 at Centerburg and Dec. 11 at home against Northridge.

"It's kind of like middle school all over again," Cannon said. "All of the people that are on the team are really great friends and we all want to do well for each other just because we're all so close."

At a glance

•Coach: Connie Allen, fifth season

•Opener: Saturday vs. Heath

•Key players: Chelsea Cannon, Courtney Dingess, Michelle Fairchild, Katie Furr and Chelsea Sager