For the past four years, Danielle Tristani, Kaysi McLaughlin and Kelly Shober carried the Marian girls basketball team.
In fact, last season, the trio carried the Fillies (22-7) deep into the playoffs, where they fell one game short of a State Championship game appearance.
With his three-headed monster of the past few years now slain due to graduation, Marian head coach Paul Brutto is tasked with concocting a new winning formula for a program that has qualified for the District 11 playoffs in 39 straight seasons.
"We lose all our size and most of our points," stated Brutto. "Danielle was a four-year starter, and Kelly and Kaysi started for three-and-a-half years. All three of them were also double-digit scorers, so that's a lot to replace."
The trio combined for 63-percent of last year's scoring, with McLaughlin averaging 11.28 points per game and 57 three-pointers, both tops on the team. Meanwhile, Shober (a 5-9 forward) averaged 10.89 points per game and Tristani (a 5-10 forward) netted 9.96 points per game. Shober and Tristani were also the team's top two rebounders.
"We're very much a guard-oriented team this year and we're trying to change our style to some degree to reflect our lack of heighth," said Brutto. "I think you'll see us being more of a full court team both offensively and defensively and playing at a higher tempo than we have over the past couple of years."
Two pieces that are going to be instrumental in that transition are 5-4 junior point guard Gabby Green and 5-4 senior forward Samantha Faust.
Green and Faust started all 29 games for Marian last season and combined to score 25-percent of the team's points. Green averaged 6.79 points and is the team's top returning perimeter shooter (20 three-pointers), while Faust tallied 5.31 points per game and was the team's top free-throw shooter (.750).
"Sam and Gabby both had nice seasons last year, but the big difference was they were behind-the-scenes players," stated Brutto. "Sam did a great job getting rebounds and garbage points, and Gabby did a nice job of scoring and running the offense. However, this year, both of them need to be more assertive and step into the spotlight as leaders both on and off the court."
Joining Green and Faust in the starting lineup will be junior guards Lindsay Nemeth (5-4, 2.23 ppg) and Emily Sofranko (5-5, 1.54 ppg) and sophomore guard Ashley Fannick (5-6, 1.67 ppg).
Nemeth and Sofranko both saw solid minutes last year off the bench, while Fannick (ACL injury) played in only three games. Expected to contribute off the bench are 5-11 freshman forward Savanna Krusinsky, 5-6 senior forward Abbey Hill and 5-4 sophomore guard Monica Baranko. Also expected to see time are Bethany Shaud (5-5 sophomore forward), Cheyanne Bray (5-7 sophomore guard) and Ericha Holman (5-11 junior center).
"We're probably the smallest we've been in recent memory so we need to adapt to that," said Brutto. "We'll try to spread the floor more and open up some driving lanes and do as much as we can in transition. We need to make our best offense our pressure defense and that's going to be a work in progress.
"Due to the lack of experience, we really need to get better as the year goes on. We have to hold our own before New Year's, and because of how difficult our schedule is, we can't afford to be below the .500 mark entering January."