WEIRTON - The Weir girls' basketball team made its way to the state tournament in Charleston last season and has three starters returning, which is certainly a good thing.
However, when only 13 girls answered the call for tryouts, it left veteran coach Bill Smith scratching his head as to why more candidates didn't responded.
The Red Riders finished last season with a 14-9 record and were led by seniors Nikki Robinson and Shameca Gray. Robinson, a four-year starter, led the Riders with 14.4 points a game along with 7.5 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 71-percent free throw shooting.
Gray averaged 8.7 points, while a third senior, Bobbie Jo Julian, came off the bench to add 1.6 points per game to the Riders offense.
"Nikki did everything for us all four years she was here," Smith said. "It wasn't only one time, but many times and Shameca stepped in to give us some physical play. She wasn't bashful about going to the basket with the ball. We have our work cut out for us replacing those numbers, that's for sure."
Smith hopes the three returning starters can fill the scoring void. He's counting on Taylor Gianangeli, the only senior, junior Shelva Burns and sophomore Alyssa Shingle to step up their scoring.
Gianangeli, who gives the Riders a physical presence under the basket, is the leading scorer returning. She averaged 8.4 points a game.
Burns averaged 7.7 points and Shingle, who got better through the season and figured it out by the end of her rookie season, averaged 4.5 points per game. Shingle scored 19 in Weir's 13-point loss to Ravenswood in the state tournament. She hit a last-second shot to upset Oak Glen in the sectional tournament and was a key player in the 54-35 victory against Ritchie County in the regional.
While Burns and Ginangeli play inside, Shingle probably will do a lot of the ball handling and outside shooting.
Smith will be looking to replace Robinson and Gray with a trio that includes junior Raven Young and sophomores Ashlynn Drizake and Selena Wolverton. Young and Drizake saw limited action a year ago off the bench.
Despite having only 13 players, Smith plans to put a reserve team on the floor. A number of the junior varsity players will dress for the varsity.
Battling for varsity playing time are Taylor Long, a junior, along with sophomores Madison Dalrymple, Michayla Dobosz, Lindsey Robinson and Mariah McAllister. Smith has two freshmen on the team, Kristen Sims and Regan Stead.