NEOGA -- Four returning starters are back for Neoga girls basketball coach Kim Romack, who is in her eighth season. The four are seniors Olivia Titus and Kelsey Partlow along with juniors Audrey Ramert and Kylee Phillips.
"We have seven girls with varsity experience coming back from last season as well as a few freshmen that played for assistant coach Seth James (former head coach who went 133-33 with varsity from 1998-99 through 2003-04) and myself in junior high," said Romack. "It's nice for us to have those kids for multiple years. They learn our system early on and it really shows the first week of practice. We feel like we don't have to teach things from scratch. The girls who come in for us from Sigel St. Michael's catch on quickly and practice really smoothly. Our older girls are a great help to the younger once as well."
Titus is the top returning scorer as she average 9.6, while Philips was at 7.5, Ramert, a 5-10 junior, averaged 5.5 and Partlow averaged 3.9 per game.
A total of 12 players are out with two seniors, three juniors, two sophomores, and five freshmen. The Lady Indians will play a junior varsity schedule.
"We feel like we can run a number of girls in and out," said Romack. "We have some teams on our schedule who don't have JV team and we feel fortunate with the kids we have that we will be able to play JV and varsity games."
Gone from last year is only one player but it was first-team all-National Trail Conference player, 5-10 Mary Hill, who averaged 10 points per game. Hill is playing volleyball at Lincoln Land Community College.
"It is always hard to lose your seniors and Mary was a great post presence as well as a great leader," said Romack. "However, we feel like we have a combination of younger kids that will step in and fill in those gaps nicely."
Neoga has two freshmen that are 5-10 and 6-0 in Sydney Richards and Allison Worman respectively.
"With the loss of Hill we do have a couple of freshmen coming in that bring some height,:" said Romack. "They will be able to help and compliment Ramert who played quite a bit in the post four us last year."
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Neoga averaged 43. 1 points per game and allowed 46.9.
"We do have a little more height this year than in years past," said Romack. "That will be fun for us to run some different combinations on the floor. We have some speed and we have some height and we are hoping to be creative on the defensive end to play to our strengths."
Neoga opened the season Monday at Central A&M and will host Arcola Tuesday in a non-conference game.
"We have a great group of girls who come in and work hard every day," said Romack. "We hope to utilize our strengths of height and speed and be able to cause some matchup problems. We have a bigger post presence than we have had in the past, however, we also have a few kids that can really shoot the ball well from the perimeter. We have some girls who are pretty quick."
Romack said the team has been working on improving its defense.
"It is an are we feel like we can improve on from last season," said Romack. "We also want to cut down on the number of turnovers in each game."
The Lady Indians open NTC play Dec. 2 against WSS.
"I think the NTC will be very competitive again this year," said Romack. "Altamont has been solid for the last couple of years and I expect that from them this year as well. CHBC should also be a team that has improved from last season."