Lincoln High School's girls basketball team won 17 games last season. The Railsplitters are off to a 5-2 start and looking to better that figure this season.
"We had six seniors back and two of them had started," said third-year Lincoln coach Anne Stoltzenburg. "We got off to a good start and had a good Thanksgiving tournament (second at Mount Zion)."
Christine Presswood, a senior guard, paces the Railers with 13.0 points per game. Sophomore Chrissy Schonauer adds 8.9 points and paces the team in field goal percentage (.451) and free throw percentage (.833).
Lincoln's other letterwinners include seniors Patty Carmitchel, Chelsea Leesman, Shanan McLaughlin and Natasha Wilson and junior Juliann Papesch.
"We have some shooters with Presswood and Carmitchel and we have some speed," said Stoltzenburg. "Our weakness is our inside game, and we're working on that. We don't have a lot of big girls."
Seniors Ashley Cooper (12.5 ppg) and Mandy Monkman (10.5) have been the leaders for Clinton (5-5). The Maroons' other returning letterwinner is senior center Brandi Pearl. Clinton has been hit with a couple injuries, with the latest a sprained ankle that will shelve junior guard Alex Ornelas from seven days to three weeks.
"We're starting to gel a little bit as the season goes on," said Clinton coach Jerry Wayne. "I would have liked to see us win more than one game in our tournament."
Among other area teams, Dwight and Clinton have gotten off to a good start.
Dwight (5-4) already has played five games decided by seven or fewer points, including two straight overtime victories. Junior forward Kelli Humbert, a first-team all-Interstate Eight Conference selection last season, paces the Trojans with 11.5 points and 10.0 rebounds.
"She's coming on strong. She's all of 5-foot-7," said Dwight coach Jeff Froelich. "She's our leader."
Junior guard Megan Kohrt and 6-3 senior forward Kelsey Jorstad contribute 8.5 points each, while senior Melissa White hands out 4.5 assists.
Senior guards Angela Oltman and Stephanie Reynolds are showing the way for Roanoke-Benson/Lowpoint-Washburn (5-3). The Rockets' other letterwinners are 6-foot senior center Megan Sanders and juniors Marisa Durley, Sara Maher, Amanda McClure, Jamie Pfister and Lindsey Zoss.
"They're playing a little better than I expected," said Rocket coach Kara Parks. "Offensively, we've struggled a little bit but the defense has carried us. We're kind of in a shooting slump."
The area's two Tomahawk Conference schools are Mount Pulaski (3-9) and Illini Central (0-7).
Mount Pulaski is led by 5-9 senior center/forward Kim Oglesby, who was a first-team all-league selection last season.
Illini Central graduated area scoring leader Kellie Klassen (22.9 ppg). The Cougars have three seniors letterwinners in 5-10 center Alyse Schrick, forward-guard Brittany Jibben and guard Nicole Robertson.
Streator, which has nine letterwinners, is off to an 0-2 start in the NCIC Conference. Woodland (1-4) is competing in the Tri-County Conference this season.