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St. Edward will be without senior guard Rena Ranallo (left) to start the season. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
When you have only three experienced players returning from last year, it’s not exactly good fortune to have two of them injured early in practices.
Such is the plight facing St. Edward’s girls basketball team, which has to get through an early ankle injury suffered by all-purpose senior guard Rena Ranallo and a muscle pull suffered by guard Katie Swanson.
“We’ll have to work through this time the best way we can,” St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson said. “I like the effort so far, but we’re working on consistency. That’s what you get with inexperienced players sometimes is the inconsistency.”
Clarissa Ramos, a junior forward, is currently the only practicing experienced player from last year’s 21-8 squad.
“Especially without those two on the floor, we’re looking for people to step up,” Dawson said. “Clarissa has stepped up and taken a leadership role in practice and a vocal one.
“Those are our two best ball handlers who are hurt so there’s a lot of opportunity for people to make a name for themselves and step up.”
Two seniors lacking experience, forward Mary Kate Nastali and guard Hayley Budish, will be in supporting roles.
If the Green Wave is lacking in experience, it is not lacking in height. Sophomore post player Cece Rapp is 6-foot-2, while junior post Maria Von Ahnen is 6-1. Junior post Cory Kelly is 6-foot.
“We have the potential to be a good rebounding team and have a strong interior defense,” Dawson said.
On the perimeter, junior twin sisters Victoria and Olivia Walschot are among those seeking to provide strong defense and punch while Swanson and Ranallo are out. Juniors Stephanie Armstrong and Emily Witt are also in the backcourt mix.
“We have some players who can shoot from the outside,” Dawson said. “Our major scoring responsibility will go to Ranallo, Katie, Clarissa, and hopefully Maria or Cece will step up.”
Dawson thinks the Green Wave can be competitive even with so much inexperience on the court.
“We’re not in a rebuilding year but we’re in one where we’re looking to make big improvements from game to game,” she said. “We coaches are doing a lot of teaching, and it’s been exciting because it’s kind of a fresh start with a brand new team after losing so many girls who had been here. But they’re playing hard and that’s what’s making it exciting.”
St. Edward is moved up to Class 3A for postseason play due to the new IHSA enrollment policy, and Dawson thinks her teamthey will be prepared well by itsthe Suburban Christian Conference schedule.
“Our conference is as grueling as you can get,” she said.
St. Edward opens at Westmont at 7 p.m. Tuesday and has a game at Aurora Central on Saturday before going to the Dakota Ttournament.