CORNELL — The Cornell girls basketball team might be in for a year of building after the loss of multiple contributors from last season and just one senior on this year’s roster.
“We’re real young, one senior and so there is a lot of learning how to work together right now,” Cornell coach Dave Elliot said. “They work hard, we didn’t play much this summer and we’re behind on some skills, but they’re learning.”
In Elliot’s first season the Chiefs will have to replace the production of first team All-East Lakeland members Danielle Fasbender and Lexi Kramer, along with honorable mention Kierra Walters.
Jocelyn Tirrel will also miss the entirely of the season due to injury.
Cornell brings back four of the eight letterwinners from a season ago when the Chiefs went 9-12 overall and finished second at 8-4 in the East Lakeland Conference.
Cheyenne Peloquin — second team All-East Lakeland — is one of three returning starters hoping to lead the Chiefs. Peloquin is the team’s only senior and leading returning scorer at 6.8 points per game. She also added 6.6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1.4 steals.
Bryanna Bonander (5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 2 steals) and Erin Crowell (6.6 points, 3.4 rebounds) also return to the starting lineup with Isabelle Clark (1.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1 assist) another contributor from last year back with the team.
While those four will be counted on to carry the team this season, Elliot is still searching to find the right combination on the floor to find the most success. Newcomers Braya Duffy, Michaiah Galster, Chianna Graves, Alyssa Helland, Charity Hessler and Kaylie Walters will also see varying amounts of time on the court.
“The gym is just like a classroom you teach and teach and you find out who picks it up and then you give them the responsibility to do it,” Elliot said of the process of defining roles for this year’s team.
The Chiefs are 0-3 to start the season with losses to nonconference opponents Thorp, Eau Claire Immanuel and Cadott. The team has struggled offensively averaging less than 20 points per game and Elliot want to see the team be more aggressive to see what they are capable of on each side of the floor.
“(We have to be) not be afraid to make mistakes, (and get) stronger with the basketball and trusting their own shot,” Elliot said of how the team can improve. “Basically our nonconference gets us ready for conference, so we’re looking at a way for us to get stronger and not be afraid to make mistakes but we need to do much better to compete.”
Cornell resumes play on Thursday by hosting Augusta. Following that is the East Lakeland opener when the Chiefs have a road matchup with Lake Holcombe on Tuesday with a contest against Winter at Cornell next Thursday.
The schedule features nonconference battles with Lac Courte Oreilles, Gilmanton, Greenwood, Prairie Farm and Gilman.
Ellliot is seeing good effort from the team early this season but significant departures from a season ago have led to this being a year of building specifically early on as players step into new roles. Elliot said if younger players can develop confidence and a more aggressive approach the Chiefs can be competitive in the East Lakeland.
“They all want to learn, they all want to get better, they all want to find their spot to excel, they’ve worked very hard for me and they’re just good kids,” Elliot said. “They have to trust themselves and right now they’re afraid to make mistake and they should go the other way in nonconference and just find their game.”