RAVENNA — Ravenna girls basketball team was poised to make their third straight state tournament berth last season.
But, that all changed in mid-December last season. During the Bluejays’ game against Kearney Catholic High School, reigning Hub Territory Player of the Year and senior guard Jordyn Fiddelke suffered a season-ending injury.
Not only was her high school career finished, but the Bluejays’ season also was over. The Bluejays had won their first three games of the season prior to their game against KCHS. They finished the year with an 8-10 record, winning just five games without their star player.
This season, the Bluejays hope to be competitive. But, that might not be easy. They return three starters and one other letterwinner. They also will rely heavily on young, inexperienced players.
Juniors Ashlyn Fiddelke, Allyson Larsen and Callie Coulter are the returning starters for the Bluejays, while senior guard Jessica McKeon figures to contribute this season after being a letterwinner last year.
“We bring back a nucleus of role players that are going to have to take the next step in their development,” said coach Noah Maulsby. “We will count on our freshman class to be big contributors right away and to give us depth.
“We are an athletic team that will continue to get better throughout the season with experience and hopefully playing our best at the end of the season. We will have to find consistent scoring and be a better rebounding team, but they work hard and have the right attitudes.”
The Bluejays open the season at home against Amherst at 6 p.m. Dec. 5.
The Bluejays haven’t made the state tournament since 2012.
This season, the Bluejays have those hopes, especially with all five starters back from last year’s team. Although those five starters are their only returning letterwinners, the Bluejays believe their experience will show.
Junior forward Trey Mieth is the Bluejays’ top player after averaging 15.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season. Seniors Jake Jarzynka, MarKel Miigerl, Kooper Schirmer and Drew Bolling also have starting experience.
This will mark Jarzynka’s fourth year as a starter. He averaged 11.2 points per game last season. Miigerl tallied 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest last year.
“We look to improve greatly off of last year’s record,” said coach James Habe. “We return a solid group with experience, and we have some younger guys ready to step into bigger roles this winter.
“We have to be a much better defensive team if we want to reach our potential. If we can improve on the defensive end and create a few more offensive threats, we should be very competitive this year.”
The Bluejays open the season at home against Amherst on Dec. 5.
Ravenna has nine returning letterwinners, including three state qualifiers.
Junior Quenton Ackley at 145 pounds, junior Jesse Drahota at 170 and senior Tyler Wetzel at 182 are hoping to qualify for the state tournament this season after making it to Omaha a season ago.
Justin White (206), Clayton Wedemeyer (113), Hunter Douglas (138), Payton Reisbeck (152), Colton Hervert (160) and Devin Fisher (195) are returning letterwinners.
“We will have 18 wrestlers out and will be one of the smallest Class C schools,” coach Brett Mauler said. “We are extremely young still as we only have two seniors on our squad. We have a bunch of experience returning after a fifth-place team finish at the C3 District a year ago.
“We have a lot of work to do and we need more mat time but filling all 14 weight classes and returning lots of varsity experience should help our team be competitive. We are excited to compete and hopefully the boys will see their offseason wrestling and summer weight lifting pay off.”