Bill Spencer hopes his wealth of experience in basketball makes a difference in his new role as girls coach at Grove City Christian.

Spencer replaced Mindy Bankey, who moved into an assistant role because of work commitments after leading the team for two seasons.

The Eagles open Saturday, Nov. 30, at Zanesville Rosecrans in an MSL-Cardinal Division game. Last season, they finished 10-13 overall and 6-8 in the league.

"It's a little early to tell, but the girls are practicing their hearts out," Spencer said. "They're working their hearts out and that's what I enjoy seeing. They're not complaining. There's a lot of stuff that they haven't done before and they are eager to learn what we're trying to teach them."

Spencer is in his 25th season in coaching. He coached at Marion-Franklin the previous two seasons and had other stints at Independence, Eastmoor Academy, Columbus South and Northland.

He earned his 300th career win while at Northland and has 315 overall. Spencer led the Vikings to a Division I district title in 2014.

"Coach has brought in a new energy and a new technique that we haven't been able to experience before," 5-foot-6 senior forward/guard Natalie Bankey said. "It's a lot different and it's also a good kind of different, which is very exciting to get to experience."

Natalie Bankey plans to provide leadership to a team that has just two seniors with varsity experience.

"I'm really looking forward to growing with my team and experiencing my senior year," said Bankey, who is Mindy's daughter. "I'm looking forward to experiencing every game with them and having that sense of family."

The Eagles lost a major contributor to graduation in Naomi Cotter, who led the team last season by averaging 11.0 points and 6.5 rebounds and was named first-team all-league for the second consecutive season. Cotter also was third-team all-district.

Senior Sophia Hoyt (5-8, forward/center) was honorable mention all-league last season.

"Sophia is going to help us," Spencer said. "She probably has the most experience of anybody on the team outside of maybe Natalie."

Other returnees are junior Tara Johnson (5-10, post player) and sophomores Maddie Anderson (5-7, guard/forward), Grace Leffel (6-0, forward/center) and Paige Spencer (5-5, guard), who is the daughter of assistant coach Ed Spencer.

Senior Ladina Fischer (5-7, post player) is an exchange student from Switzerland.

Other players are sophomores Lauren Davis (5-5, guard), Natalia Flores (5-6, guard/forward) and Kady Hignite (5-5, guard) and freshmen Sienna Brunicardi (5-6, guard), McKenzie Kennedy (5-6, guard/forward) and Bella Rivera (5-7, post player).

"Some of these girls will be playing primarily on the j.v. side, but everybody will be dressing for varsity because that's what we have," Bill Spencer said. "We have 13 girls, so we will be practicing together and they will be learning as we go. It's definitely going to be a work in progress. I'm enjoying this because the attitudes of the girls have been wonderful.

"My goal is to turn this around and make us one of the best programs in the area."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City Christian boys basketball, girls basketball and swimming & diving teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 3 -- Home vs. Tree of Life

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Nov. 30 -- At Zanesville Rosecrans

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 3 -- Buckeye Valley, Canal Winchester, Grove City and Ready at Grove City YMCA

*League contest