Ready for an encore

Canyon Lake junior Jessie Melendez returns for the 2018-19 season to anchor the low post for head coach Zach Burleson’s Lady Hawks. Canyon Lake won a school-record 31 games a year ago.

FISCHER — Following the best season in program history, the Lady Hawks are back on the hardwood looking to conquer a brand set of district foes.

Canyon Lake, which breezed past San Antonio Brooks Academy 67-6 in Tuesday’s season opener, saw Reagan Heun — its first-ever NCAA Division I recruit — graduate last spring, but head coach Zach Burleson brings back experience at every spot in his starting five.

Junior guards Marley Carrizales, Lainee Moses and Chelsea Tschoepe will join junior post Jessie Melendez and junior forward Caroline Kullberg as starters. As a sophomore, Tschoepe landed on the District 28-4A First Team after averaging 7.0 points per contest, while Kullberg earned second-team honors after putting in 6.2 points per outing.

Burleson said his team will use a well-rounded approach to try and replace the offense provided by Heun and her 3-point marksmanship.

“It’s definitely going to be a group effort,” the coach said. “I think there will be some nights where somebody has their number called a little more, so to speak, but I think it’s going to be spread around and we’re going to have different leading scorers on different nights.”

In addition to the starters, Burleson said he expects varsity newcomer Sophia Barber to fill a role this season. Against Brooks, guard Emily Geist supplied a game-high 12 points to provide another proficient scorer for the Lady Hawks. The roster also includes Cassidy Felps, Kaitlyn Cox and Adia Garcia.

After holding the Lady Bengals to under 10 points in its 2018-19 debut, Canyon Lake appears to once again be a force on the defensive end of the floor. However, Burleson said the style of play will be slightly altered this season.

“We’re going to rely on the guards to stay in front, but we’re going to ask our posts to come out and guard quicker than we did last year,” Burleson said. “Scheme-wise, we’re going to be just a little bit different.”

Prior to entering into the new-look District 28-4A, the Lady Hawks will test themselves with tournament stays at Johnson City, New Braunfels Christian Academy and Kerrville Our Lady of the Hills. Once league play rolls around, Burleson expects an incredibly tough battle among the six competitors.

“Fredericksburg and Boerne are probably the favorites, as they are every year,” Burleson said. “It’s also going to be us, Llano, Wimberley and Bandera. I think it’s going to be a pretty tight district race, to be honest with you.”

Canyon Lake is set to welcome Manor New Tech to town for its home opener this coming Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The Lady Hawks’ district opener is set for Jan. 4 at Boerne at 6:30 p.m.

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