No rebuilding for talented HCHS

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Josh Flickinger/Beloit Daily News Hononegah's Julia Burns will be a key component to this year's Indians squad, which returns two starters.

ROCKTON - The term 'rebuilding' isn't found in any glossary related to the Hononegah girls basketball program.

Not even for a team that lost a generational talent in current Marquette starter Jordan King, a four-year starter in Cali Schmitz, and a two-year solid contributor in Hannah Malcomson.

According to veteran coach Randy Weibel, the Indians can get right back where they were last season: Namely, the IHSA Class 4A state tournament.

"As coaches, that's our goal every year, and we believe this team has the chance to do that," Weibel said. "Now, the question is do they believe it? I'm not sure they do right now, but there's a lot of time between now and then to get that confidence going. We shoot the three better than last year's team, and we should have a solid inside presence with our past players."

Weibel's source of optimism springs from a combination of returning starters and a host of talented newcomers ready to show their stuff.

Point guard Julia Burns has started since her freshman season, while junior forward Allison Murdoch finished last season on a strong note.

"Her best two games were at the state tournament," Weibel said. "That has to do wonders for her confidence, and I expect a big season out of her."

Burns, an all-NIC-10 performer last year, has taken over the leadership role along with fellow seniors Rylie Martinetti and Kiyah Abney.

"Those three have all done a great job of leading this group and making sure the culture remains good," Weibel said. "They lead vocally on the floor, but also by example in how hard they work."

Besides the three seniors, Murdock is the only other upperclassman on the roster. The remainder will be filled with talented sophomores and freshmen eager to make their mark on the floor.

Freshman Sydney Donaldson will carry the family name on as an impact player from day one. Brothers Mario, Josh and Caleb were all strong performers for the boys team through the years.

Kamryn Abney and Ember Gunnick are both freshmen also, while a host of sophomores including Carly LaMay, Haley Warren and Gracie Wolfe will contribute in some measure.

"You just aren't going to step in replace kids like the ones we lost," Weibel said. "That's just not going to happen. So we have to try and put together five kids who can all fill a role. Last year, we pretty much knew that Jordan was going to lead us in scoring every game. This year, it could be somebody different every night."

Weibel expects Boylan and Belvidere North to be prime contributors for the NIC-10 title, while Rockford Auburn should be an improved squad as well.

The Indians will begin play at the Dundee-Crown Tournament Tuesday, when they face Streamwood.

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