Now entering his 21st year as coach of the Lynnville-Sully girls basketball team, Jerry Hulsing has been able to re-load the Hawks year after year with quality talent that's always made them a top tier Class 1A team.
This year is probably as close to a rebuilding year as he's had.
Having to replace six varsity graduates from a team that made it to the state quarterfinals for a third straight year — including four starters — Hulsing will rely on a far younger roster than he's had in a while.
"We knew that coming in," Hulsing said. "It was a necessary thing. Now we have to ask some kids to step up into a leadership role they're not used to."
Lynnville-Sully has made it to the state quarterfinals the last three seasons, being able to rely on upperclassmen leadership each time. Two of last year's seniors — Brianna James and Brittany Bryan — received several all-state honors by either the Iowa Girls Coaches Association or Des Moines Register, averaging 14.6 and 10.5 points per game, respectively.
Fellow 2012 graduate Abby Van Wyk was a second-team all-conference pick in the South Iowa Cedar League. Aimee Rolffs and last year's first player off the bench — McKenzie Ritter — are also gone, leaving the Hawks with mostly a clean slate for this season.
But that's not to say the current team isn't talented. The lone returning starter — junior Lyndsay Terpstra will lead the team from the point guard spot after averaging 5.9 ppg last year. She had 14 points in the team's season-opening game at English Valleys last Friday.
The other four starting spots this season tentatively consist of juniors Becca Vos, Jade Van Rees, Cassie Cullen and sophomore Rachel Van Wyk. Each saw a fair amount of varsity minutes last year. Cullen scored 96 points and was a 44.9 percent field goal shooter on 35-of-78 attempts. Van Wyk scored 64 points, Van Rees had 46, while Vos saw limited action.
The Hawks carry a roster of only nine players, which gives them a short bench of four that will see plenty of minutes. Those players include sophomores Madison Rasmusson, Shelby Davis, Lysandra James and Tierney Needham.
While Lynnville-Sully's lineup is relatively inexperienced, those on starting lineup each were part of last year's team that went to state, and with the tradition of success the Hawks have had, they all know what it takes to win.
"It's something that's going to take some time. We'll have some growing pains and things to learn early in theseason," said Hulsing, who had 406 wins in his 20 seasons prior to this one, eight state tournament appearances and three state titles. "They didn't have a lot of minutes last year and pressure situations. They'll adapt to it. They're capable and good basketball players."
Lynnville-Sully started its season with a 42-35 loss at English Valleys Nov. 16, but bounced back with a 54-18 thrashing of Sigourney Tuesday night at home. Cullen had 18 points against Sigourney, while Van Wyk had nine points and eight rebounds and Terpstra added nine points. The Hawks shot 50 percent for the game and held the Savages to 16.7 percent.
Lynnville-Sully's next game is Nov. 30, when it hosts Keota.