Sevastopol kicks off girls basketball play this week with a non-conference game at home Tuesday against Suring.
After winning the Packerland Conference title and a Division 5 regional championship last season, Sevastopol has big shoes to fill as it launches its title defense. The Pioneers went 16-0 in league play and 25-2 overall last year, but lost the Packerland Player of the Year, Bailey Rikkola, to graduation. Starter Reese Schauske also graduated, and guard Sam Harrell is out with a knee injury.
“We lost three starters from last year’s team who were all in,” said fifth-year head coach Ben Rikkola. “They never missed practice, they came to everything in the summer, they never gave excuses or complained.”
But the cupboard isn’t bare. Bailey’s sister, Naomi Rikkola, an all-conference performer, returns, as does senior Libby Ash, a three-point sharpshooter. Also back are junior Kayla Ranly and seniors Katie Spude and Kylee Duessler.
Ben Rikkola said this season’s team has veteran leadership, but is lacking in size and depth.
He said he’s searching for “the next generation of Pioneers who are willing to do what it takes to be successful,” and is looking forward to “watching our returning veterans take the next step up and take the reins as leaders of the program.”
“If we are able to find the next group of players who embody our Pioneer mission, it will be a lot of fun,” Ben Rikkola said.