The Ar-We-Va girls won 15 of 23 games on the basketball court a year ago.
Under sixth-year head coach Dan Kock, the 2019-20 Rockets will look to continue their recent success with five returning letterwinners, including four starters from last year’s club that got to the regional semifinal round before bowing out to eventual Class 1A state champion Newell-Fonda.
Ar-We-Va graduated three girls, including all-state guard Emilee Danner, who averaged 21.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Danner left Ar-We-Va sitting third on the school’s all-time scoring chart with 1,429 points.
The Rockets also lost Emily Hinners and Maddie Owen to graduation.
"We graduated a large percent of our scoring, so we will need to have some other girls step up, but we return a good nucleus of players who got a lot of playing time a year ago," commented Kock.
Kock will have a roster of 15 girls, but nine of the 15 are in the lower two grades, including six freshmen.
Returning starters from last year’s team that also went 11-5 in the Rolling Valley Conference are senior guard Leslie Luft, junior forward Jadeyn Smith, junior guard Sara Schurke and junior guard Hannah Kraus.
Luft and Smith will be expected to carry the scoring load for Ar-We-Va this season.
Luft is the team’s lone senior.
Smith and Luft were second and third in scoring a year ago behind Danner.
Smith averaged 10.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last winter en route to being named to the all-conference second team.
She also dished out 28 assists and was second to Danner in blocks with a total of 27.
Luft, the team’s point guard, averaged 7.8 points and 2.8 assists per game a year ago.
Schurke averaged 4.5 points and Kraus averaged 2.0 points per contest last winter.
The other returning veteran is junior forward/center Bridget Cameron, who averaged 2.1 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest.
Smith is the team’s top outside scoring threat back after sinking 17 three-point shots.
Luft drained 15 three-point baskets, followed by Schurke with 13 and Kraus with 10.
Filling out Ar-We-Va’s roster are junior forward Maris Cameron; sophomores Jordan Hanson, Maci Ruch and Sophie Jackson; and freshmen Timberlen Koch, Jamie Hausman, Kallie Bromert, Kora Obrecht, Maggie Ragaller and Samantha Hinners.
"With 16 girls out, we should have some competition for playing time," noted Kock, who will be joined on the bench by Jeremy Smith and Larry Siebert.
"After our top six, we will be playing some inexperienced girls. We will need patience, good shot selection and avoid unforced turnovers," Kock said.
When looking at the RVC race, Kock feels the conference will be balanced with several of the teams returning key personnel from a year ago.
"Our goal as always is to finish at the top of the conference," remarked Kock, whose team once again will face a tough nonconference slate with Westwood Sloan, Storm Lake St. Mary’s, Red Oak and Ridge View on the schedule.
Ar-We-Va opens its regular season tonight (Tuesday) against Paton-Churdan at Churdan.