After one season at Northridge High School, coach Ron Florey saw the girls basketball program takes small steps forward.

After one season at Northridge High School, coach Ron Florey saw the girls basketball program takes small steps forward.

Florey hopes to make more strides this season, but it might not be simple with 25 players in the program and 21 being freshmen and sophomores.

"One big thing is that we had 11 freshmen last year and now we have 11 sophomores, so they must like being a part of the program and that's a big plus for us," said Florey, whose team finished 3-18 overall last season after falling to fourth-seeded Heath 44-43 in the first round of the Division III district tournament. "But we lost three seniors who averaged about 25 of the 40 points we scored per game, so we'll be looking find ways to replace those points."

Seniors lost were Cassandra Chambers, Mandi Swickard and Abbie Zarley. Swickard was the go-to player, averaging 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and she also had 25 blocks. Chambers averaged 6.2 points and made 24 3-pointers.

Northridge returns five letterwinners in seniors Lindsay Rose (5-foot-4 guard) Kayleigh Williams (5-7 guard), junior Jessica Johnson (5-9 forward) as well as sophomores Keilah Ketron (6-1 center) and Diedre Wells (5-4 guard).

"We have five letterwinners back from varsity, but all five split time between varsity and junior varsity," Florey said. "They really have very little varsity experience."

"Coach Florey has really done a good job with the program and these girls have worked so hard and really have a great attitude toward the game," assistant Pat Swickard said. "They have been giving maximum effort and that's all coach Florey expects. If they keep doing that, then they'll continue to improve."

Also on the roster are senior Emily Probonic (5-7 guard/forward), sophomores Lauren Cornwell (5-8 forward), Kaela Hatfield (5-4 guard), Dana VanDervort (5-5 guard) and Shannon Woosley (5-0 guard) and freshman Sierra Fronk (5-10 forward).

"The positive thing about this group of girls is how hard they work, and because of that, they play really good defense," Florey said. "We're pretty inexperienced and we have a problem with ball-handling, but that will come with experience."

In the MBC, the Vikings went 2-12 to finish last behind Fredericktown (14-0), Utica (11-3), Loudonville (9-5), East Knox (7-7), Centerburg (6-8), Johnstown-Monroe (4-10) and Danville (4-10). Northridge did not win a league game in the 2006-07 season.

"Utica, Danville and Loudonville are pretty much the best teams in the league night in and night out," said Florey, whose team opens Saturday at Fisher Catholic before opening league play Dec. 4 at Danville.

Florey said the Vikings are one of two MBC teams -- the other being Utica -- with a freshman team.

"I think our future looks really good," Florey said. "There will be nights when we will play pretty well and be competitive and some nights our inexperience will show.

"We have good team chemistry and we're very unselfish, but we have to establish a go-to player, and that will come."

At a glance

•Coach: Ron Florey, second season

•Opener: Saturday at Fisher Catholic

•Key players: Jessica Johnson, Keilah Ketron, Lindsay Rose, Diedre Wells and Kayleigh Williams