Faith Schaefer (center) is one of Kettle Run's seven returning varsity players.

Kettle Run has a paradox.

The Cougars are young, yet they’re one of Kettle Run’s most experienced girls basketball teams in years.

Coach Ellen Allen has only one senior on her 10-girl squad, but that group includes three returning juniors and three sophomores who played as freshmen, giving her six girls with varsity credentials.

“We have a great core back from last year’s team,” Allen said.

So Allen expects her team to improve after a 3-20 record in 2018-19.

“We are stronger physically after being in the weight room in a regimented offseason program,” she said. “We’ve really improved in that area.”

The returning players’ chemistry with three varsity newcomers has also impressed Allen.

“I think we will play together as a team,” she said. “They work hard, and [those elements] will make us better all the way around.”

Post player Rachel Schwind is back for her third varsity season and is the lone senior.

Schwind and sophomore Emma Humphries give the Cougars an inside presence. Kettle Run also has size and versatility with junior Faith Schafer and sophomore Ashley Hume. They can play multiple positions on the perimeter and move inside if needed.

“Both are tall and lanky and run the floor well,” Allen said.

Junior Mary Maxwell also demonstrated versatility a year ago, as did sophomore Madison Canterbury. Junior Maddy Powers returns as the floor leader and has improved her skill set.

“Maddy is doing some good things at the point guard spot,” Allen said.

Newcomers will handle the other guard duties. Sophomore Katie Kuzma moves up after a year on the junior varsity team, and freshmen Katie Bloom and Meg Harkness fill out the roster.

Kettle Run has struggled offensively in recent seasons, but offseason work should improve their shooting. Plus, the team’s overall athletic ability and tough defense will create scoring chances.

“We’re just going to focus on playing solid defense and taking advantage of what we get offensively,” Allen said.

The Northwestern District Class 4 favorites are expected to be James Wood and Millbrook. Culpeper has joined the district this year after two seasons in Class 3 division of the Northwestern.

Kettle Run has a heavy pre-Christmas schedule with eight games before the holiday, including district foes Handley, Millbrook, Liberty and James Wood.

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