By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
5th year at Rootstown (10th overall)
56-34 at Rootstown (113-104 career record)
Coaching Staff: Cayenne Jordan, varsity assistant; Joe Leonard, junior varsity; Nia Lough, varsity assistant; Dana Beale, eighth grade; Brittany Kidd, seventh grade.
2021-22 Record: 15-8 overall; 8-2 Portage Trail Conference; league co-champions.
Returning Letterwinners (10): Kylie McCulloch, Aubrey Kline, Lindsay Smith, Kelsie Hamrick, Brooklynn McIntyre, Abby White, Porter Smith, Melanie Plecko, Nadia Lough.
Letterwinners Lost (3): Nia Lough, Kadence Pownall, Katie Plecko.
The Rovers’ roster has depth, experience and enough talent that can let them play in a variety of ways.
Ultimately, Zelenak wants his team to create easy transition baskets created from their defense.
“If those are not there, I would like to see us work the offense from the inside out,” Zelenak said.
The team’s success will lay in the ability to play together as a team.
“They need to play the game for each other and their community that supports them,” Zelenak said.
There is plenty of talent and experience across the backcourt.
Kylie McCulloch is a versatile guard, who can play all three guard spots.
“She has found her way to being one of our primary ball-handlers and is a three-year starter,” Zelenak said. “She is a calming presence on both ends of the floor.”
Abby White and Porter Smith will step into bigger roles after working through injuries last year.
Melanie Plecko has been defensive catalyst and is a quick, physical defender. She also will manage the offense.
“Melanie is spectacular in transition scoring,” Zelenak said.
Kelsie Hamrick is very versatile and is going to see time at multiple positions.
Addy Germann and Sasha Nichols will also push for playing time.
Nadia Lough and Linsdsay Smith both return at the stretch-four positions.
Smith is a long, lanky defender, who has the ability to alter shots defensively. She is also a plus-rebounder, which helps start the fastbreak.
Lough, a sophomore, is a player that can do it all — and proved it last year as a freshman.
She defends, rebounds, scores, passes and leads vocally and by example.
Aubrey Kline and Brooklynn McIntyre give the Rovers a presence in the paint.
“Aubrey brings a tough, physical style. She is a great interior defender, with an excellent mid-range game,” Zelenak said.
“Brooklynn has taken on a new mindset this year. She has emerged as one of our leaders on the floor. She can score from 15 feet,” Zelenak said.
“We return a lot of letter winners from a team that learned what it took to be a championship-caliber team,” Zelenak said. “The championship didn’t stop them from finding the gym in the off-season. As a matter of fact, I feel it made several of them hungrier to make it a tradition.”
Sasha Nichols and Addy Germann.
“I have no cause for concern. These ladies are wonderful to coach, and I look forward to being in the gym with them daily,” Zelenak said. “We have the pieces and mentality to do very well again this year.”
“Mogadore returns the Player of the Year, Southeast has a tradition of excellence and JFK got a transfer from Jackson-Milton, but also don’t sleep on the Rovers,” Zelenak said.
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