LAUREL HILL — With only one senior, Jessica Fickett, on the Laurel Hill girls basketball team roster the future looks bright for the Hoboes.
But how that will play out this season still remains to be seen.
The Hoboes are in a tough District 1-1A that includes perennial powerhouses Paxton and Ponce de Leon.
Laurel Hill coach Scott Varnum admits it will be tough to get past the Bobcats and Pirates, but he likes a lot of things about his team.
"We've got some size (with post players Jhanea Griffin and Gracie Reese) on the teams in the district," he said. "We want to take advantage of that and get ourselves to where we want to be."
Reese, a 6-foot-3 inch freshman, reminds Varnum a lot of her older brother, Brad, who is now playing professional basketball in Europe.
"She's really long like Brad," he said. "She's been doing a really good job on the boards. She's been averaging about 14 rebounds a game and I am really happy with that.
"We are trying to get her to square up and take the ball to the hole (basket) more. has been in a little slump lately and we are just trying to get her over that."
Griffin had no problem taking care of things inside when she scored 19 points in a recent game against Ponce de Leon. And Varnum said that was with Griffin slowed by a nagging injury.
Varnum and the Hoboes welcome point guard Ty DeAndrade back after she suffered a season-ending injury to her right anterior cruciate ligament a year ago.
"Ty DeAndrade is going to get better," Varnum said. "She's working hard. You never doubt her as an athlete.
"She does everything she can for her team and her teammates. She's rehabbed hard and is still dealing with some issues. She's not 100 percent yet, but I'd call her 80 or 85 percent."
DeAndrade and Griffin aren't the only players trying to get back to full strength.
Bridget Zessin, who like Griffin played volleyball) has been slowed by a toe injury. Varnum said the toe would probably require surgery, but he expected Zessin, who is the daughter of Laurel Hill boys basketball coach, Kent Zessin, to make a quick recover.
Varnum said the Hoboes need for Zessin to average in double figures scoring for Laurel Hill to be competitive in most games.
"We've got to get Bridget Zessin shooting the ball more," he said. "We've got to get her more involved in the game.
"She's one of my better passers. She understands the game and she's been around the game all of her life."
Zessin will play guard and forward.
Stormy Hansley along with Fickett also will play guard.
Varnum knows anything can happen between now and the district tournament at the end of January.
And while expects to see Paxton and Ponce de Leon fight for the district honors he won't be surprised by anything.
"We are all pretty close teams three through seven," he said. "I think Paxton and Ponce de Leon, with their guard play, it really sets them a part. They really get after you in the fourth quarter and you have to handle it.
"It's going to be very competitive."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.