They are young, but they are mighty.
And it means that the Bishop Luers Knights aren’t just strong this year, they are here for a multi-year run for a chance at a SAC title.
It means returning five players to the lineup from a team that went 12-11 last season, but many of them now have multiple years of varsity service under their belts. That kind of experience and the leadership that it is cultivating have the Knights in the hunt in the SAC. Their own leader, coach Mark Pixley, has seen the success that the program can have and that is a big positive too. When Pixley, in his ninth year leading Luers, wins his first game in the 2022-2023 season, it will be the 100th of his career.
Addie Shank returns to bolster the post for the Knights after back to back really solid seasons. Expectations are that Shank will continue to get better in a conference where she is going to have some of the very best experience of returning true post players after averaging 10.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game last season. Freshman Miley Waring is expected to join her in the post.
From there, Bishop Luers has a long list of combo players that will help Shank inside, but also be very versatile on the wing. Sophomores Reese Rhodehamel (7.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals per game) and Maggie Parent (5 points, 4.3 rebounds/game) return and Grace Parent will be joining the rotation as a freshman.
New to the Luers varsity team will be juniors Annika Davis, who played JV last year as a transfer from South Side where she averaged 8.5 points per game as a freshman, and Kyndal Tyree – a transfer from North Side that led the Legends with 7.9 points per game last season. Both can handle the ball and the pressure well to lead the back court.
Guards Ruthie Burton and Keaghan Gatchell both return to add depth to that back court.
There is so much potential at Bishop Luers, it may as well be bursting from the seams. The Knights have worked hard to build back up but the reality is that this coaching staff knows how to win and they’ve stayed competitive even in what was more of a lean year than normal the last two seasons.
Bishop Luers is scrappy, they are always in contention to win games and everybody knows that.
A perfect storm could move them higher, but right now all of the high expectations plant the Knights at nine.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
There is still youth, as mentioned. None of Luers’ five key returners are seniors and no planned player of consequence for their roster is a senior. So there will always be some growing pains to be encountered. In addition, they are working in a transfer and a potential leading scorer up from the JV.
May sound like excuses, but there are some things for the Knights to overcome to rise up the ranks during the regular season.
November 18 at Snider
If the Knights are going to be serious contenders, they have to be able to isolate big time scorers and the Panthers have a pair of them.
Right out of the gate, this could tell us a lot about where Luers is now as this isn’t a team we really expect to be a wait and see project. Sure, they will develop but they have a lot of pieces that could be ready right now and in game four of the season, we will find out.
Not only can Snider go offensively, but their class of 2024 duo is also stout defensively. Can the Knights handle heavy ball pressure in the full court?
Annika Davis, junior
She was one of the best freshmen in the area in one of the best classes we have seen in a while. And then, her transfer to Luers last season forced her to play junior varsity for the Knights.
Now that she is back in the lineup on a varsity level, expect her to shine pretty intensely. She averaged 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds as a freshman at South Side. And if you have caught her during the summers since, including this past one, you know how good Davis is.
So if you forgot about her due to her JV spell, allow us to reintroduce you to her.
PREVIOUSLY IN THE COUNTDOWN