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The East Butler girls' basketball team went 9-14 in 2017-18, something first-year head coach James Kriz is hoping to improve upon as he takes the reins of the program.

The Tigers return experience, only losing two seniors from last year's team, and hope that those players take a step up from last year’s play.

"I think we have a lot of athletic ability," Kriz said. "I think we've got a group of good girls that are going to work really hard. They definitely want to win. We have a very good attitude and work ethic."

With much of last year's team returning, Kriz is optimistic that this year could be a more successful season for East Butler than the 2017-18 season. 

"I think we'll be improved," he said. "We've got about 70 percent of our scoring back from last year. I've got three full-time starters and another girl coming back who started some games last year because of injuries, she filled in, so we've got a lot of experience coming back.

"We've got some young talent, freshmen and sophomores that are probably going to step up and be able to contribute. If we can find some consistent scoring, I think we could be a much-improved team over last year."

East Butler will have four seniors on the team this season - Kaitlyn Hain, Brooklyn Jones, Madison Helman and Roxanne Bergman.

Hain average 10.7 points per game last season to lead East Butler, Helman recorded 4.3 rebounds per game, which is the highest out of any returning player, and Jones only turned the ball over 0.4 times per game which was the lowest on the team.

"I think Kaitlyn Hain is going to be pretty solid for us, I think Madison Helman is going to be pretty solid for us," Kriz said. "Junior Lexis Haney is going to be pretty solid, she was good last year, and I think some of the younger girls are ready to step up.

"Sophomore Addie Sullivan is probably going to step up and play a little bit, and our two freshman Lanae Aerts and Allie Rigatuso, and our other junior Amanda Aerts, she'll be another junior that's going to contribute. We have a lot of experience coming back and some young talent that's ready to step up."

According to Kriz, this year's Tigers are building an identity of being a hard-working group. He said that their goal is to out work their opponents.

"I'm just excited," Kriz said. As a first-year coach here at East Butler I'm excited. I'm an East Butler grad, so it's kind of fun to come back and take over the program I know was good for a long time and I'm excited to get them back, get going again, and get the program back in the right direction."

East Butler's first game is 6:15 p.m. on Nov. 29 when the Tigers host Cedar Bluffs. 

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net

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