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Roger Hayes, the second-year head coach of the Annville-Cleona girls' basketball team, didn't hesitate when the question was asked.

Should the Little Dutchmen improve on last season's 4-18 record?

"Absolutely," Hayes said.

The Dutchmen have a core of five seniors and some promising younger players who gained invaluable experience during last season's trying campaign, Hayes' first in the program.

"They adjusted to a whole new system offensively and defensively," Hayes said, "and they had to adjust to me and a whole new staff, so everything was brand new last year."

Before a single minute of basketball has been played, Hayes said his seniors have already delivered — in leadership.

"We're relying heavily on the senior leadership we have," the coach said. "They've welcomed the younger girls with open arms, and their leadership couldn't be better."

The team is led by senior Meredith Bachman, who can play point guard or shooting guard.

"The whole conversation starts with Meredith Bachman," Hayes said. "She's gonna be a one and a two guard."

Also seeing playing time in the backcourt will be seniors Addison Hayes and Hannah Fischer, and junior Morgan Zimmerman. Junior Michaela Singer also figures to get a lot of playing time.

Two of the starters in the frontcourt figure to be 5-foot-10 sophomore Chloe Inman and senior Steph Inman.

Senior forward Taylor Winters would certainly be a part of the equation, but she has struggled to recover from a torn ACL suffered in a game last season.

She will not be ready to open the season, but she might return near the end of the season. Hayes said Winters' absence is a major loss for the team.

Hayes said the Dutchmen are small and won't be able to pound the ball inside, but they will play to their strengths, which are quickness and versatility.

"The great thing about our team is we have a lot of interchangeable parts," Hayes said. "We're not gonna be the tallest team. We can spread the floor, and we have kids who can play a lot of different positions."

The Dutchmen's style of offense and defense will be dictated by the opponent's strengths and weaknesses, Hayes said. But there will be a common thread on offense.

"We want to get up and down the court," Hayes said. "We need to spread the floor and create our opportunities by attacking the basket and finding the open man. Look at that roster. There's not much height. We're not gonna be able to post anyone up on too many trips down the court."

ANNVILLE-CLEONA GIRLS AT A GLANCE

Coach: Roger Hayes, 2nd season

Last year:  4-18 overall, 3-13 in L-L Section Four

Key players: Meredith Bachman, Sr. guard; Steph Inman, Sr. forward; Chloe Inman, Soph. forward; Morgan Zimmerman, Jr. guard; Hannah Fischer, Sr. guard; Taylor Winters, Sr. forward; Addison Hayes, Sr. guard

Season opener: Dec. 4 at Hamburg Tip-Off Tournament

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