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LCAA’S FINEST: Loaded Hornell girls are ready to defend Sec. V title

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By Chris Metcalf

HORNELL – Expectations are extremely high for the Hornell girls basketball team this winter.

After finishing last year 15-9, including winning the Section V Class B2 title, second-year head coach Jimmy Dagon and the Lady Raiders return a ton of firepower to the court this year including leading scorer Jordyn Dvring, just a sophomore, but very talented.

Last year, the then-freshman shooting guard averaged nearly 13 points per game.

Also back is junior three-point specialist Lillian Hoyt who averaged nine points per game while hitting on 67% from behind the arc.

Hoyt hit some big shots in crucial spots a year ago.

Dyring and Hoyt will be expected once again to carry the offensive load, which both are more than capable of.

Sophomores Selena Maldonado and Payton Bentley are also back.

Maldonado, the team’s point guard, stuffed the stat sheet last year averaging nine points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals per game, and is the Lady Raiders’ most versatile player.

Bentley, who plays power forward and center, was an inside presence last year averaging seven rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while also getting 1.5 steals as well.

Freshman forward Raegan Evingham also returns after showing signs of an outstanding perimeter game in 2022-23.

Other key returners include sophomore Mia Nasca (PG/SG) and senior Kadience Gollnitz (C/PF).

Top newcomers hoping to contribute include six-foot sophomore A’Jonay Hawkins (forward), freshman Alexis Smith (guard), junior Zahra Mehr (guard) and senior Larissa Bezerra (forward).

“Coming off a sectional championship and only losing one senior last season has resulted in our expectations being very high for this season. We’ve put in a lot of work this offseason, and we’re excited for the 2023-24 season to begin,” coach Dagon said. “We’ve scheduled a very difficult non-conference schedule this year, but the girls seem to be up for the challenge.”

Hornell will open their season Saturday at the Way-Co Hall of Fame Classic taking on Hornell for a 6 p.m. start.

Dagon says his kids will be ready.

“The girls are locked in and working hard to put themselves in position to be successful,” he said. “It’s a different situation this year coming off a championship compared to last year when we were a bit of an underdog. We know we will have to come to play every game and the team is looking forward to the challenge.”

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