The Lady Chiefs, who tip off their season tonight against Northview in a Thanksgiving tournament at North Forsyth, struggled at times last season. They finished just 11-16 overall and 7-10 against Region 7AAAAA opponents. Sequoyah also failed to qualify for the state playoffs after falling to Osborne by just three points in the second round of the region tournament.
Now, as DeWitt enters his second season with the Lady Chiefs, he will be looking to some familiar faces on the court. Senior Emily Ryan, a Wofford commitment, represents the experienced veterans, while sophomore twins Lauren and Kelley Hartman should also have increased roles.
“I took over a Sequoyah program that has so much talent,” DeWitt said. “They fight and compete day in and day out. They play hard and they listen well. They are going to play some good basketball all season long.”
DeWitt described Ryan as a combo guard with an excellent shot.
“She is the type of player who wants to get the job done,” DeWitt said. “I’m proud to have her for her senior year.”
Kelley Hartman will be the Lady Chiefs’ force near the basket, particularly with the departure of older sister Maggie, who’s now at Harvard.
Kelley Hartman is already drawing attention from college programs and is using that as a motivational tool to continue improving. She will compete with her twin sister to lead the team in blocks and rebounds.
Other returning players include Tori Rogers, Kyli Schmitt, Kaitlyn Brandon, Kennedy Williams and Julie Mitchell.
Schmitt, a junior, is one of Sequoyah’s top defenders and has the ability to play any position on the court.
On paper, the Lady Chiefs seem to have it all.
In addition to a wealth of experience, they have height, with Kelly Hartman standing 6-foot-2, Lauren Hartman at 6-foot and Ashlyn Wallace and Schmitt each standing 5-foot-11. The only player under 5-foot-6 is newcomer Mikayla Miles.
“We have solid shooting skills,” DeWitt adds. “We worked on that a lot over the summer. One of our weaknesses last year was our transition, and that hobbled us last year. Our girls have really taken the challenge to improve that.”
Simply put, DeWitt thinks Sequoyah will be competing for a region title in February and make a march into the state tournament.
“There is a lot of rich history at Sequoyah, and tradition,” DeWitt said. “As a coach, I’m going to encourage that and nourish that, and the players are going to do their part.”
Sequoyah won’t have any easy time getting through its region, however.
The Lady Chiefs will have to get through the talented programs of Creekview and Osborne. The first region game will come Nov. 30 at Creekview.