The first year for Brian Ortmeier as head coach of the Iowa Central women's basketball team has been an interesting one.
A handful of returning sophomores, though, has helped ease the transition for Ortmeier and the incoming freshman as they continue to battle through the coronavirus pandemic.
Jordan Engbrecht, Jessica Jackson, Isabell West and Jacie Stephenson are back with Jackson returning from a season-ending knee injury. The Tritons went 17-14 a year ago under Kelly Kruger, including an 8-8 mark in the ultra-competitive ICCAC.
"I would say the transition has gone well," Ortmeier said. "A big part of that is having a solid group of players in place. We have some good experience with those sophomores and some very talented freshmen that have stepped up in practices."
Ortmeier spent the past four seasons leading the Laramie County program, which he helped build from the ground up. He also has made stops at Colorado Northwestern, Dakota State and McPherson.
West is coming off a season in which she played in all 30 games, averaging a team-leading 13 points per game. The Minnesota native shot over 48 percent from the field and averaged 7.5 rebounds and nearly two assists per game.
Engbrecht posted just under nine points a night, shooting 31 percent from the 3-point line with 112 rebounds and 37 steals. Stephenson scored 36 points with 44 rebounds while Jackson contributed 95 points and 89 rebounds in 2018-19.
"Isabell has really stood out in practice and is somebody who can be a big force for us inside and outside," Ortmeier said. "She is an all-around talented player."
"Taylor can shoot the ball and really handles it well," Ortmeier said. "Carley has also been a standout with her speed and athleticism in getting to the rim."
"Those first few games will be a feeling out process for everybody, but I feel like we have a good feel after 60 days of practice and four scrimmages of who plays well together," Ortmeier said. "It's going to be good to get that competitive atmosphere going again. I know the girls are excited for (the start of the season)."
-By Dana Becker
IOWA CENTRAL WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Nevaeh Moeschter, Minneapolis, Minn.; Holley Johnson, Lone Tree; Taylor McKinney, Webster City; Autumn Dykstra, Maquoketa; Sherynn Titus, St. Paul, Minn.; Nevaeh Galloway, Minneapolis, Minn.; Carley West, Woodbury, Minn.; Jocelyn Amos, Griswold; Viatris Scott, Pilot Mound; Emilyce Brown, Fremont, Neb.
Jan. 20 - NIACC; 23 - Iowa Western; 27 - at Ellsworth; 30 - at Southwestern.
Feb. 3 - DMACC; 6 - at Marshalltown; 10 - Northeast; 17 - at NIACC; 20 - Marshalltown; 23 - at Iowa Western; 27 - at Kirkwood.
March 3 - Iowa Lakes; 6 - at Southeastern; 10 - Ellsworth; 13 - Southwestern; 17 - at Northeast; 24 - at Iowa Lakes; 27 - Southeastern; 31 - at DMACC.
April 3 - Kirkwood.