Pleasant Valley has big plans for this season, and there's good reason for that optimism. The team that came up just short of its third consecutive Mountain Valley Conference title brings back its top scorers along with plenty of depth for one more run at a league title.
"We have everybody back and this team has been a part of two MVC championships and was a runner-up last year," said fifth year coach Nadia Gauronsky. "And they've made district playoffs the last three years.
"But it's important that they continue to work hard and not rest on the success of the past. We can achieve our goals only if they continue to get better and grow and develop as a better basketball team."
"Team" is the best word to describe a Pleasant Valley squad that will feature nine girls rotating in and out of the lineup on a regular basis. Those constantly shifting lineups also create more competitive practices since all of the girls are vying for five spots on the floor.
"All of the girls can play multiple positions, and that's a really good thing," Gauronsky said of her roster flexibility. "But I think our guards will be particularly strong because they can do so many things with the basketball."
The backcourt will be led by talented seniors Jordan Meckes, who was Pleasant Valley's leading scorer a year ago, averaging 7.9 points-per-game, and Keri Dekmar, who was just as effective scoring (7.4 ppg) as she was getting her teammates involved (4.0 apg).
Sophomore guard Kiki Russell proved to be a spark plug as a freshman last year and will look to provide similar contributions with a full season of varsity experience under her belt.
The Lady Bears will also have a solid presence under the basket in senior forward MacKenzie Dorney, who averaged 5.8 points-per-game last season.
Even with a wealth of talent returning and a gym full of banners highlighting their recent success, Gauronsky knows her team can't rest on its laurels in a league with little room for error.
"I think being complacent might be a concern," Gauronsky said. "It's great that we've been successful, but you don't want to say that's good enough. You want to continue to work hard everyday and keep striving to improve.
"But it's really a great group of girls and I hope they can be as successful as they can be if they continue to work hard."
For Meckes, and the five other seniors on the roster, the disappointment of not winning the MVC title and coming up short in the district quarterfinals will be more than enough motivation to come back strong this season.
"I expect us to at least make it as far as we did last year because we have so many girls returning," said Meckes. "We only lost one senior from last year's team, so I think achieving even more success in the postseason is a definite possibility."
With seven returning letterwinners, there's little reason to believe Pleasant Valley won't be making its fourth consecutive trip to the MVC title game in the league's final year.