FRONTENAC — Life in the CNC was difficult for the Frontenac High School girls’ basketball team last season, but with a strong group of upperclassmen returning and a new wave underclassmen ready to make an immediate contribution, the Raiders believe they’re primed for a bounce-back season.

Despite not hitting their stride last season, the Raiders continued to battle through the difficult CNC schedule and look to bring a similar effort this season.

“Our season didn’t end the way we wanted,” FHS head coach Martha Harper said. “However, I feel like the team never quit working hard. Every loss hurt, but that pain made them work harder in practice. I hope they keep that high work ethic everyday.”

The Raiders proved to have the makeup of a CNC team, as they showed grit, toughness and perseverance in the face of adversity.

“The CNC is a very strong league,” Harper said. “We’ll have to play our best each game because the teams in the league are well coached. We’ll see great defenses, so that will prepare our offense for the postseason. Our defense will also have to work hard each night. Playing in the CNC just really prepares us for the postseason.”

Taking on the leadership role both on and off the court for the Raiders are their four seniors, who Harper said will need to be better than ever.

“Taylor Peterson is stronger and more confident this year coming off of a knee injury her freshman year,” Harper said. “I’m excited to see her play with no fear of injury. Macy Kotzman will be our inside power. She has improved every year, and this season, she will put it all together. We will be looking at her to rebound and play tough defense.”

“Skylar Baker is one of the hardest workers we have on our team,” Harper said. “She gives everything she has each game, so we’ll look at her to be the spark on offense and defense. Katelin Randall will be another hard-working senior. She has one of the best attitudes on the team. She is a leader through her positive attitude and hard work in drills.”

The seniors will lead the way for the large group of underclassmen, which gives the program promise for the future.

“I have nine freshmen and eight sophomores this year,” Harper said. “Several of the sophomores got some varsity playing time last year, so I expect each one of them to step up again this year and play an important role on the varsity team again. I believe that they’ll give us some good depth on the bench. They’ll have to compete very hard in practice each day.”

Because of their depth, Harper said this season will be a team effort for the Raiders.

“Our team will have good depth in all positions,” Harper said. “We will be quick and we are becoming very smart players. We’ll need to continue to learn to work together and learn to read each other. We lost our main rebounder last year, so rebounding will be very important for us to improve on and make a priority.”

It’s going to take a lot of talent and dedication to win a state title this season, but Harper believes the sky's the limit for her team.

“In order to win a state championship, we’ll have to win the rebounding battle and take care of the ball,” Harper said. “This bunch of girls knows what it will take to get to state and they are willing to work hard to get there.”

 — Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at jbuckamneer@morningsun.net and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.