What a difference a year makes for Roswell, which is now 11-7 overall and leads Region 5AAAAAA with a 6-1 mark.
The return of senior standouts Andreona Keys and Nikki Cwalina, who both missed the entire 2012-13 season with torn ACLs, along the maturation of their younger players from a year ago has boosted the Lady Hornets back up to the ranks of contenders in 5AAAAAA.
“We had two players who were injured last year and they’re back and pretty much leading us in every category, so that’s been a big boost for us,” Roswell coach Lisa Kennedy said. “Because they didn’t play last year, we got a lot of young kids who got a lot of valuable experience. Even though they didn’t have a great record, they got a ton of experience and now – when you add [Keys and Cwalina] in the mix to those kids who got a lot of playing time last year – it really helps our team get a lot better in a short amount of time.”
Defense has played a big role as well in Roswell’s improved fortunes this season, with the Lady Hornets giving up only about 40 points a game.
“The team decided as a group to dedicate themselves to holding teams under 40 points a game – that’s our team goal – and we’ve had games where we held teams under 35 points a game,” Kennedy said. “We’re definitely successful when we can do that. They’ve all committed to it. It’s a team goal every single game and we’ve committed to limiting the other teams’ offensive rebounds. It’s something we work on every day and it’s something they’ve taken to heart.”
Keys, a 5-foot-10 senior guard who has recently signed a letter-of-intent with Purdue, leads the team in scoring (21.9 ppg), assists (2.8 apg) and steals (2.8 spg).
Also leading the way is Cwalina, a 6-0 senior center who is finally healthy after struggling through most of her high school career and is leading the team in rebounding (9.1 rpg) and is second behind Keys in scoring (11.6 ppg).
“Nikki is a special kid,” Kennedy said. “She has torn her ACL three years in a row – the same one three times. She was part of the team last year, but just couldn’t play. She was rehabbing constantly and she was doing physical therapy – she even got a personal trainer – all those things just to come back and play her senior year. She has brought a lot to our post game. She can defend against anybody in the region and she can score against anybody in the region.”
Emily Pruitt, a 5-6 junior guard, also provides some offensive punch, while 5-7 senior guard Greer Hampton and 5-9 senior guard Choute Street are strong defensive players for the Lady Hornets.