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Hot Dogs tip off new era tonight against Carroll

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SANDOVAL: Frankfort junior Liz Sandoval is one of the few Hot Dogs returning with significant varsity experience after averaging 2.3 points and 1.4 steals a game last season.
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ON THE DRIVE: Frankfort sophomore Payton Dubree, driving with the ball during practice last week against Maricruz Santos, is among those who played junior varsity last season and is expected to fill the void on varsity after last season’s entire starting five graduated.
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NEW FACES: Frankfort players break after practice last week. The Hot Dogs start a new girls basketball era tonight when they tip off the season against visiting Carroll at 7:30 p.m.
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MAKING THE PASS: Frankfort junior Sydney Cesare saw limited varsity minutes last season and is among players expected to step up after significant graduation losses from last season. Above, she passes by assistant coach Kyle Hodges during a half-court drill at practice last week.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Probably no winter sports program in the county experienced more turnover from last year than Frankfort girls basketball, with the Hot Dogs getting their first glimpse of a new era when they start the season at home tonight against Carroll.

“We had three years of the same faces and same group and expectations,” Frankfort head coach Joe Marsh said. “Now kind of going into the season, it’s a new identity, new team and new faces. It’s exciting though. It’s a different type of game. We’re going to be a little smaller and a little quicker. It’s going to be a fun season to see where we are at. “

The Hot Dogs lost senior starters Rylee Seibert, Kimee Kingma, Emily Michael, Kya King and Nallely Alanis to graduation. Key reserve Lindsey Gay decided not to come out for the team this season. That group accounted for 93 percent of the scoring for Frankfort last season and 89 percent of the rebounding.

Seibert, a four-year starter, led the team in scoring at 12.1 ppg with 6.4 ppg, with Kingma leading the team in rebounding at 9.8 per game and averaged 11.7 ppg. Kingma and the other seniors had started since their sophomore year.

Juniors Liz Sandoval and Jessie Ramos are the only returnees that saw significant minutes last year, with Sandoval (2.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg and 1.4 apg) starting some early in the season due to an injury to Alanis. Ramos (.7 ppg and 1.1 rpg) saw more minutes as the season progressed to provide defensive energy.

Others who saw limited time on the varsity were junior Sydney Cesare (.4 ppg in 10 games), junior Ingrid Valdes (.4 rpg in seven games) and sophomore Jordan Frazier (five games).

“We’re going to be seeing faces that played a year or two in JV,” Marsh said.

Ramos was out early last week at practice recovering from a concussion. JV players from last year expected to see significant time on the varsity this season are sophomores Payton Dubree, Sydni Whitaker, Karim Quinones and junior Ariana Regalado. Sophomores Tarah Martinez and Carina Alanis are also in the mix for varsity minutes.

“We have some girls that are going to be learning leadership roles and learning if they are asked to be a scorer,” Marsh said. “Last year when we were having the conversation (at the end of the season), I don’t think they were ready for how new this team would be either. They are excited and I think they are looking forward to the challenge.

“We’ve had some great workouts these last couple weeks. Girls have been in, in the mornings, shooting, which I’ve never had. So, it’s a fun season to be coming into.”

One advantage the Hot Dogs had in an 8-16 season last year was size over most opponents with Kingma at center and Seibert at forward. Marsh expects to adapt with a smaller and quicker lineup.

“We are completely different,” he said. “The size has graduated and we’re going to miss them, but at the same time we’re going to be up-tempo, we’re going to be quick and try to score quick and we’re going to try and play defense the full length of the court.

“We’re at about nine deep and that’s going to benefit us when it comes to the athleticism that we have. Obviously, the size is going to be a little bit of a disadvantage, but I think the quickness and athleticism will offset that. Our plan going into the season is to be all-out and in your face and turn defense into offense.

“With our size disadvantage, you’ve got to buy in (defensively) and so far we’ve had some great practices.”

Marsh also sees an opportunity to grow with no seniors on the roster.

“We have a strong sophomore bunch and a strong junior bunch,” he said. “I’m really excited because a lot of the minutes that are coming in we’re not going to lose them next year. We’re going to be young and athletic and we’re going to be teachable.”

Tonight’s game with Carroll will begin to make everything clearer. Marsh noted the team participated in a summer league which was disappointing “as far as wins and losses, but we didn’t have four of those players that are going to see minutes this summer.

“I don’t think we had one full week where we had everybody there,” he added. “That’s why I’m kind of looking forward to our scrimmage with Peru (last Thursday) to see where we stack up against a different team.”

The team also has some new coaches on the staff as well with Bethany Best coaching the JV and Matt Britt acting as her assistant. Best teaches at Green Meadows Elementary with Britt at Suncrest Elementary.

“I’m excited about having teachers here and having some ground-up momentum from the elementary level,” Marsh said, with Kyle Hodges returning as his varsity assistant for a third year.

Along with tonight’s game, other highlights on the schedule include opening the Sagamore Conference season against visiting North Montgomery on Nov. 19, hosting county rivals Clinton Central on Dec. 19 and Clinton Prairie on Jan.7 and visiting county rival Rossville on Jan. 14. Frankfort will host their own Hot Dog Invite on Dec. 28.

“It’s kind of a refreshing scenario to see some of these new faces come in and make a difference,” Marsh said. “Last year, to give props to that group, they left with a lot of momentum and we improved every year the last three years. It’s hard to predict where we’re going to be with such a new group, but I think nothing else but keep going from where they left off.

“I’m expecting them to be defensively minded from the start. Wins and losses, I don’t know. We graduated every point really except for Liz and Jessie. It’s one of those where I told them just now, ‘we’ve got to find those players and someone needs to step up’ and hopefully we’ll find out as we get going here in our home opener against Carroll and we find some players.”