Despite losing a few key contributors, the Cardington girls’ basketball team is hoping to maintain their position at the top of the KMAC behind seven letter-winners.

Senior Casey Bertke, a Cedarville University commit, is coming off a season that saw her named first-team All-Ohio, Central District and District 11, while also reaching the 1000-point mark. One of two team captains and a four-year letter-winner, she averaged 22.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 2.5 steals per game and hit 57 percent of her shots.

The other captain is three-year letter-winning senior Hannah Wickline, who was a second-team pick by the conference and district last year while averaging nine points, and seven rebounds.

They’ll be joined by five sophomores who all saw playing time on last year’s 22-4 district finalist team. Beth Hardwick (4 points, 2.2 rebounds), Dana Bertke (3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists), Kambry Edwards (2 points), Karsyn Edwards (2 points) and Mikayla Linkous (2 points) will all return to the Pirates.

“As always, we look to compete for a conference title,” said head coach Jamie Edwards. “We will look to the leadership of our two seniors, Casey Bertke and Hannah Wickline. We are a young, yet experienced team. Our sophomore guards are very talented and compete year-round, which will add great balance to our squad. Dana Bertke and Beth Hardwick will have increased roles and we will look to the Edwards twins to fill in the void at point guard after the graduation of their sister, Kynlee. Mikayla Linkous will also factor in as an important piece to our roster this season.”

Kynlee Edwards earned Conference Player of the Year, special mention All-Ohio, first-team District 11 and second-team Central District honors as a senior. A four-year starter at point guard, she tallied 421 career steals and averaged 11 points, 4.6 steals and 3.2 assists per game, while recording 83 deflections. Also graduating with honors was Paige Clinger (second-team District 11, second-team KMAC), who averaged 6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3 assists.

Also looking to fill those voids will be a handful of varsity newcomers. Edwards praised junior Sara Stepp for her work during the summer to increase her ability to score. Also new to the varsity are sophomore Shaylynn Morris Montgomery and freshman Madison Linkous. While Edwards’ main goal is to win the KMAC, he noted that wouldn’t be easy, as a number of teams are poised to compete with his squad.

“Mount Gilead returns many experienced seniors and adds a talented freshman to their squad,” he said. “I look for them to have a very successful year under their new coach. Highland looks ready to compete as well. They competed well this summer and return an experienced point guard to lead the show. Danville always finds a way to compete and cause havoc in the league race. Northmor will also be competitive under the leadership of their talented sophomore class.”

Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel Cardington’s girls’ basketball team will look to defend its KMAC title this season. Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel Cardington’s girls’ basketball team will look to defend its KMAC title this season.

By Rob Hamilton

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Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS