Lynchburg-Clay's Macy Etienne is pictured for the Lady Mustangs in a game last season. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Lynchburg-Clay's Macy Etienne is pictured for the Lady Mustangs in a game last season. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Returning to the court with a majority of their team back from last season, the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs are wanting to take the next step in showing they can and will compete with the best in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference during the 2022-23 season.

Beginning her 12th season as the head coach of Lynchburg-Clay, Whitney Lewis is the longest tenured head coach in Highland County basketball as she began her head coaching career back in 2011. This year, Lewis has a team that consists of four seniors, four juniors and one sophomore.

LCHS is coming off a season where they were 6-7 in the SHAC for fourth place in the Division I standings, and they were 12-10 overall.

Seniors for LCHS are Jenna Waits, Karlie Tipton, Kalyn Rich and Bryanna Price. The juniors are Addison West, Jade Massey, Macy Etienne and Ella Barry. The lone sophomore is Allie Waits.

The Lady Mustangs are no strangers to being competitive, not just on the basketball court, but this past fall most of the players on the basketball roster were on the Division III regional champion soccer team that saw them play in the state semifinals earlier in November.

“We had a great offseason this summer and saw a lot of girls in the gym working on getting better. This continued on to our preseason, even with the majority of our team playing in the state soccer tournament,” Lewis said of how her team’s offseason went. “I am impressed with the quick turnaround with our players that played soccer. It’s so tough to move from one season to another, but our team has been working hard in practice and transitioning well.”

LCHS lost two seniors from last season, but return their top three leading scorers from a season ago, as they are Etienne, Massey and Addison West.

In 22 games last year, Etienne averaged 16.2 points per game, while also contributing 4.4 rebounds per game, 2.3 steals per game and 3.5 assists per game, as she was an Division III honorable mention All-Ohio selection as a sophomore. Etienne’s totals included 357 points, 69 3-pointers made, 96 rebounds (31 offensive), three blocks, 50 steals and 76 assists.

Also an honorable mention All-Ohio selection last season was Massey, as she averaged 15.9 ppg with 7.7 rpg, 3.5 spg, and she totaled 10 blocks during her sophomore season. Massey’s totals included 349 points, 40 3-pointers made,169 rebounds (61 offensive), 13 blocks, 78 steals and 65 assists.

Massey and Etienne were also each All-District (both Coaches and Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association lists) and All-SHAC selections a season ago.

West last season averaged 10.7 ppg, and she also averaged 3.9 rpg, 1.5 spg and 1.8 apg. Her season totals included 236 points, 85 rebounds (35 offensive), eight blocks, 33 steals, 40 assists and she made 27 3-pointers.

Price last season totaled 147 points (7.4 ppg) and 182 rebounds (a team best), including 77 offensive boards, plus she added six blocks, 35 steals and 35 assists. She averaged 9.1 rpg as a junior.

“This team continues to impress with their energy in practice and eagerness to work hard and get better,” Lewis said. “Even when we were shorthanded when practices officially started, the energy in the gym was off the charts. That continues to be a staple in our practice, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

“We want to continue to improve in all the little aspects of the game — just being in the gym and working together, being comfortable with each other, and our style of play. We’ve been limited on our practice days with our full squad, so I am looking forward to seeing everything gel as we get more and more time in the gym.”

Having most of the varsity team back from last season, there are high expectations for the Lady Mustangs for the 2022-23 season, as they know what’s expected of them this season.

“We have high expectations this season,” Lewis said. “Returning the majority of our varsity team and that experience, we expect to perform at a high level each and every game. Our players have put time in the gym over the summer and want to see that hard work pay off.

“Our team is eager. We are eager to get started and play at a high level this season. Their work ethic in practice and the energy we have creates an environment where we are all working toward the same goals. The gym is a great place to be right now as a Lady Mustang.”

As everyone knows, the SHAC is one of the toughest conferences for girls basketball in the surrounding area, and this season will be no different as LCHS looks to improve from their fourth-place finish in Division I of the conference last season, finishing with six SHAC wins.

“Conference play is always tough. I believe our league is second to none in terms of competition,” Lewis said. “We will have to battle and bring our best game to each and every contest.”

The non-conference games for Lynchburg-Clay will consist of facing Hillsboro, McClain, Vinton County (at Rio Grande), Goshen, Unioto, Georgetown, South Webster, Paint Valley, Miami Trace and Western Brown.

“All of our non-league opponents will continue to challenge us and prepare us for conference and postseason play,” Lewis said.

LCHS had a change to their original early-season schedule and now will open the season Monday, Nov. 21 at home against West Union in an SHAC contest with a 7 p.m. start time.