BELLEVILLE — It's a time of transition for the Belleville East Lancers, who will be going to a uptempo style of play this season.
East coach Andrea Seipp said the change is being made out of necessity.
"I definitely have changed our offense and the way we plan to attack the basket because we don't have much size,'' Seipp said. "It's the first time since I have been here that we haven't had a back-to-the-basket player in the post, somebody who we can post up and try to isolate. We're trying to make up for that with speed.''
Seipp said the Lancers are going to a guard-based attack that she hopes produces a lot of layups.
"We have to beat teams down the floor,'' Seipp said. "Obviously, we are going to have matchup problems because of our lack of height, but I also think other teams are going to have a hard time matching up against us as well. They are going to have to put post players against guard because there are times that we are going to play five guards.''
Senior forward Montira Mosby is the top returner from a squad that posted a 16-10 record last season.
The 5-foot-11 Mosby averaged a team-leading 14.2 points per game last season. She also averaged 6.7 rebounds per game.
"Montira is a huge piece to have back,'' Seipp said. "She was first team All-Conference and she led us in scoring. She plays a lot bigger than she is.''
Kelsey Smith will be the starting point guard after serving as the backup point guard to Melissa Bridges last season.
"Kelsey came in and did a really nice job of the bench,'' Seipp said. "She was probably put into that position a little too early last year, but I think that experience is going to benefit us this year. She has good leadership skills, she understands the game well and the girls respect here.''
Sophomore Ellisha Davis also will see time at point guard,
Senior Brynesha Mosby, a cousin to Montira, returns at guard. She averaged four points last season.
"Brynesha ran cross country this year, so is kind of helping with that uptempo style,'' Seipp said. "She does a good job of getting up the floor. She is also really long and lanky. She is listed at 5-8, but she has long wing span and long strides on the run. She's looking really good at attacking the basket on the dribble.''
Senior guard Chamecia Liddell, who saw limited action last year, is an outside shooting threat.
Junior guard Annie Eversman is another capable outside shooter, while 5-foot-6 junior Maddy Philipp and 5-foot-5 senior Ryley Blomberg are versatile guards.
"Maddy Philipp and Ryley Blomberg are very similar in their size and what they bring to the court,'' Seipp said. "They're smart players, good passers, they know the offense. They rebound well. They play bigger than what their size is.''
Sophomore Quiozha Alexander will serve as a defensive specialist.
"She will be used to match up against strong players for the opponent,'' Seipp said.
Junior guard-forward Erin Holl, who averaged 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds last year, Montira's sister, sophomore Tamar Mosby, who is the tallest player on the team at 6-foot, will help with providing an inside presence.
"I can tell you that all 11 of those kids will see time the first weekend,'' said Seipp, whose team opens the season this week in the 13th Wildcat Thanksgiving Tournament in Salem.
The Lancers tip off the season against Civic Memorial at 8 p.m. Thursday in pool play.
Seipp said the key to the season will be staying healthy and continuing to bond as a team.
"This group has unique chemistry that I have not seen here before,'' said Seipp, whose four seniors all came out of Whiteside Grade School "There is a good group of senior leaders on this team, and they're smart. If they can stay healthy, stay together, continue to lead, stay coachable and want to continue to improve, I think by the end of the year they could be playing really competitive basketball.''
Seipp's assistant coaches are all Belleville East graduates.
Former Lancer players Suzanne Grossnickle, Amanda Kemezys and Lauren Botemps are joined by Todd Blomberg, who is the school's varsity baseball coach.
"We're a staff full of alumni; I'm the only one who didn't go to Belleville East,'' said Seipp, who graduated from Okawville High School. "They're phenomenal. We have great coaches with great experience. I have the tallest coaching staff in the conference with Grossnickle (6-foot-2) and Kemezys (6-foot-4).''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.