VANDALIA – The Butler Lady Aviators earned a reputation last year as one of the hardest working teams in the league. Though under sized and at time out-manned due to injuries, coach Molly Bardonaro’s Aviators were fun to watch and left it all on the floor.
This season, the Aviators may be even more fun to watch as speed and athleticism should lead to wins and a fun style of play.
The Aviators have challenges, though, as they lost two of their top three scorers in Shelby Moses and Abby Grooms to graduation. Moses was the top outside threat for Butler while Grooms also averaged nearly 10 rebounds a game.
Bardonaro believes this year’s version of the Aviators could be more potent in scoring, however. Brittney Petrosky, Olivia Schoenherr, and Willow Knight should give the Aviators a potent scoring threat with any of the three being a leading scorer in any given game.
“Our leaders will be Brittany and Olivia – they are both seniors and should lead us in points along with Willow,” said Bardonaro. “In scrimmages, all three have been right there holding their own and they all know it. They know their roles on this team, they know they need to be leaders, and they know they need to be our leading scorers every game.”
The Aviators will also have the services of Zoie Franklin, an outstanding volleyball player who hasn’t played basketball since middle school.
“We are glad she came out, she’s an athlete and she will give us some good minutes inside,” Bardonaro said. “She and Alyssa Burley will take some of the pressure off of Schoenherr in the middle. She and Alyssa will see a lot of minutes inside this year.”
Butler will also have athleticism inside that they haven’t had in recent memory with Franklin, Burley, Tyree Fletcher, and Maddie Mitchell.
Those four can really hit the boards well,” said Bardonaro. “They have some leaping ability and quickness inside that we haven’t had in a while. We are going to miss Abby Grooms’ 10 rebounds a game from last year, but I think these girls can more than make up for it. It may take a few games into the season, but it will come.”
With that athletic ability, and the speed of Knight and Petrosky outside, the Aviators could be a high-scoring team that relies on defense to create offense.
“Our offense will be oriented around the perimeter and defense-driven,” said Bardonaro. “We are faster than we have ever been and more athletic than we’ve been since I’ve been coaching here. The basketball knowledge isn’t where it’s been the past couple of years, but these girls are extremely coach-able and have great attitudes. They are getting better every day.”
Butler will open Friday night when they host Northmont and then travel to Miami East on Saturday. They will also host Tecumseh in the first week of the season before opening league play on Dec. 7.
“The schedule is tough early, but by Christmas time I think that some of these players who don’t have as much as experience as my leaders do you will see a big turn around,” said Bardonaro.
The Aviators are looking to the Butler student body and the support of fans to help carry them to wins, especially at home. Bardonaro hopes that begins on Friday versus Northmont.
“Last year we went to their place, the opening night in their new gym, and were the first team to beat them there,” she said. “We need to keep that going. We have that new spirit, we need them (students) behind us, we feed off that. It is intimidating for visiting teams, and we need their support.”
Butler Lady Aviators
Nov. 25 Northmont 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 26 @ Miami East 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 Tecumseh 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 @ Arcanum Noon
Dec. 7 Piqua 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 10 Greenville 1 p.m.
Dec. 14 Troy 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 17 @ Sidney 1 p.m.
Dec. 21 Tippecanoe 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 28 Oakwood 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 2 Graham 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4 @ Fairborn 7 p.m. (Baker Middle School)
Jan. 7 @ Stebbins 1 p.m.
Jan. 11 Trotwood-Madison 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18 West Carrollton 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 21 Xenia 1 p.m.
Jan. 23 @ Bellefontaine 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 @ Piqua 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 @ Greenville 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 @ Troy 1 p.m.
Feb. 8 Sidney 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 @ Tippecanue 1 p.m.