POP

Prince of Peace’s Paige Kuehl shoots a layup during a 2018-2019 home game last season.

The story has been the same for a couple years and is almost parallel to volleyball: the Prince of Peace girls should be having their turnarounds.

After two straight years of a freshman-heavy roster, the underclassmen have turned into experience upperclassmen and it’s about time the results follow suit.

It happened that way in volleyball and now it’s basketball season.

The Irish ladies didn’t win a game two years ago but came out and notched eight wins last season.

They also are bringing back all but one varsity player. That includes their top five scorers and their top five rebounders.

“It’s going to come back to the commitment in the off season that was made or not made and whether we can mold the team,” head coach David Nelson said. “We certainly have the pieces to be a competitive team.”

Anabel Blount and Lilly Isenhour both averaged about 13 points a game for the Irish last year and are back. Guards Isabel Hansen and Paige Kuehl are back, along with sophomore Kaelyn Goodsman. All the way through the roster they have returning talent and multi-sport stars.

Plus, they’re adding talent. Nelson has plenty of numbers this year and athletes to choose from.

“What’s nice this year is we’re going to have seven or eight people competing for starting spots,” Nelson said. “Years past, when we’ve had five, they haven’t had to work as hard as they should.”

Speed has been the style of choice for the Irish. Kaelyn Goodsman and Sophie Griffin offered a defensive pressure in the backcourt last year, staying quick and up tight on opposing ball handlers.

They caused a lot of turmoil, with the Irish gaining nearly 150 steals throughout the season.

“My style has always been pressure defense and pushing the ball up and down the floor,” Nelson said.

They also have some strength and height in Lilly Isenhour in the paint. This year they bring in freshman Sarah Moeller, a 6-foot addition who has varsity volleyball experience already put away.

Anabel Blount is a utility player who can work on the perimeter or on the block.

“That brings a lot of flexibility to us coaches,” Nelson said. “We’ll have to see as coaches how we can mold them and bring this together.”

The Irish are looking to stay competitive in the Tri-Rivers Conference, which returns a lot of talent this year. State semifinalist Marquette Catholic will return plenty of talent, and Easton Valley has a lot of experience on their roster.

However, if volleyball was an indicator, it’s that the Irish are ready to compete. And as Nelson stated, they certainly have the athletes to do so if everything comes together.

“Attitudes have been terrific,” Nelson said. “Kids have been working hard and I think we’re going to have a much better showing than we have in the past.”