It isn't like any one Utica High School girls basketball player will have to carry the burden of trying to replace Sierra Fletcher,who graduated asof the top point guards the program has had.

It isn't like any oneUtica High School girls basketball player will have to carry the burden of trying to replace Sierra Fletcher,who graduated asof the top point guards the program has had.

Senior Kandis Walker will be the starter when the Redskins open Saturday against Buckeye Valley in the Tip-Off Classic at Olentangy Orange. A 3-point threat, she averaged 6.7 points off the bench a year ago as the Redskins finished 18-6 overall after a 66-63 loss to Newark Catholic in a Division III district final, the team's deepest postseason penetration in nearly a decade. Junior Abbie Corbett will start at another guard spot but also can run the point, and there's additional ball-handling capability with another stable of young guards coming up.

Fletcher, who now is playing at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., was named ThisWeek's Player of the Year as a junior. She started as a sophomore when Utica was undefeated in the regular season.

"We havesome solid backups," said coach Michelle Snow, who has a 71-18 mark entering her fifth year.

Senior Tricia Harvey, a 6-foot post player, also returns, as does 5-10 junior forward Tamra Londot. Senior Brittany Vickers, who also came of the bench last season, is moving from forward to the wing.

Inside, also look for 6-1 junior Mary Lugar, who gives the Redskins another body to put on Fredericktown center MacKenzie Logan, who helped the Freddies win last year's MBC championship at 14-0 as Utica finished 11-3 as runner-up. Whitney Levering graduated after making first-team all-district and leading the Freddies to a regional final. Their 44-43 first-round win ended Utica 's 36-game league winning streak and two-year stranglehold on first place.

"Fredericktown's always a team to consider the favorite; they're so well-prepared," Snow said. " Johnstown's tough and Centerburg has a lot back. Danville didn't graduate anybody, either, so I think it's up for grabs."

Also look for junior guards Jordan Marrow, Marcie Newton and Bridget Davis.

"We'll keep getting out in transition like before but we're still working on our half-court offense," Snow said. "I think our defensive intensity will tell us how far we'll go."