NORTH CANTON The Hoover Vikings will have a three-person senior class leading them this season.
The good news is that all three are big parts of the program. The bad news is that they won’t play a single minute on the court as a group.
That’s because one member of the senior class, Makenna Drawback, tore her ACL at the end of July and will miss her senior season - at least on the court. Drabick is still part of the team alongside fellow seniors Annie Roshak and Alexis Green, and if you ask head coach Abbey Allerding, she remains a big part of it.
"I feel like there is no good time to lose a great kid. She is a significant loss in so many ways … she’s a great leader on the court, but the neat thing about a kid like Makenna is that she is still such a big part of practices and everything we do," Allerding said.
She noted that although losing Drabick further out from the start of the season allowed the Vikings more time to cope with the reality of not having her on the court, it’s virtually impossible to fully replace a senior starter at any point.
With Drabick out, Green and Roshak will need extra help from players such as Jada Cook and April Chimera, both of whom figure to see significant minutes.
With a lot of new faces in the mix, the preseason figures to have a huge importance for the Vikings. They open the season Nov. 22 against West Holmes, so time is already short when it comes to getting ready for the year.
One area Hoover is lacking in right now is experience, as a lot of its rotation players figure to be relative newcomers to the varsity level.
With that kind of roster, having good team unity and a positive attitude take on a huge role.
"I would say it’s a very inexperienced but just a great group of young women. We’re excited and we’re just getting started," Allerding said.
Given how well the fall sports season went, the veteran coach praised the various Hoover teams that either won the Federal League or had strong seasons, but said it’s up to the basketball team to generate its own energy for the year ahead. The Federal League is strong in many sports, but girls basketball has arguably been its most consistently good over the past decade.
As in the past, Hoover’s attacking style and fast pace figure to be central to its identity, an identity that has carried the program to multiple district titles during the past decade. With practices just underway, Allerding has seen her players pulling together and her three seniors dedicate their efforts to making sure the whole roster is buying into the mission.
"I’m very excited about our three seniors and what I love about our team is that they really focus on being a team," Allerding said. "Our seniors work hard to make sure entire team is excited about the year and recognize what an incredibly tough challenge it’s going to be."
Even when a program graduates a strong class, as Hoover has done regularly in its recent history, one with the level of success the Vikings have attained are often expected to simply reload and find a way to keep winning. Right now, the "how" of continuing those winning ways is what the Vikings are working on.
Part of it may be Drabick encouraging teammates and giving good advice from the sidelines while her senior teammates do the same on the court. At this point, the puzzle pieces are still being moved around, with the coaching staff trying to figure out who fits where and which lineups function best together.
Opening day is approaching quickly and although the West Holmes game is a non-league tilt, it will be the first real measuring stick for a group that believes it can continue the Hoover tradition and make it a season to remember.
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