The Brookfield girls' basketball team opens play on Tuesday night against Putnam County at home, and the Bulldogs are taking steps in the correct direction after an unsuccessful season two years ago. The 2016-17 campaign saw the Bulldogs finish their season just one game under .500 at 12-13 a year after finishing 6-18.
First-year head coach Tony Fairchild said that although he has no seniors on his roster, he expects his team to continue trending in the right direction in order to have the same level of success the Brookfield program enjoyed earlier in the decade. The Bulldogs produced three consecutive seasons of 17 wins or better from 2012-13 to 2014-15.
Cassi Conard, a sophomore listed at 5'5", will be expected to step into an expanded role this season, and Fairchild said that her ability to control her team's offensive tempo is what could really set her apart. Fairchild also spoke highly of what he has seen of the 5'6" sophomore Kaylie Stufflebean this offseason.
"(Conard) is a point guard type, and she can handle the ball really well. She's a solid player, and she has quite a bit of nice ability. Kaylie also played quite a few minutes last year, and she'll mostly be a shooting guard. She's got a little size to her, so she may have to play a little forward for us occasionally."
Kate Ewing, 5'7" sophomore, is the third returner for the Bulldogs who is coming off of a season in which she saw considerable time on the court.
The former Meadville coach said that his young team had a quality offseason in which its girls matured as basketball players. Fairchild said that adapting his team to the brand of basketball he will employ does present its challenges, but that with so much youth on the roster, his girls will have plenty of time and opportunity to adapt.
"We got together late and May and pretty much played through all of June. We started this preseason by trying to develop some skills and getting a new system in. It might be a little different than what they're used to, especially in what type of offense and defense you want to play. We're improving daily, so we'll see who gets added into the mix.
"I was at Meadville for 13 years, and it's a new experience for me. It's a change."