BRISTOLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – Randy Ward takes over for John King after a memorable run by a group of seniors all the way into the regionals last year.

Belle Zirzow (22.9 ppg, 10 rpg), Brooklyn Swiger (6.3 ppg, 4.9 apg), Billie Miller (1.7 ppg, 1.7 apg), Jaylyn Mullenax (8.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.9 apg), Alexis Shafer (4.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Ellie Crisp (2.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg) have all graduated.

Coach Ward says, “Bristol is a basketball community and I take great responsibility in being the girls’ basketball coach. I don’t think there’s a community that loves basketball more than Bristol. [The girls] have responded to tough coaching and workouts. Coach King, coach [Craig] Giesy and the administration have gone above and beyond to help make this transition as smooth as possible. I couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in being a first-time head coach. I still pinch myself to make sure this isn’t a dream.”

Junior Payton Brook leads the Panthers into the new season after averaging 6.2 points and 2.2 boards last year. She’ll be joined by her classmates Briauna Klingensmith and Destiny Hunter as well as sophomores Sammy Mansfield and Payton Gall. “Payton has lived in the gym this summer,” notes coach Ward. “We feel she’s as good as any Division 4 guard in the area. We’re expecting Briauna to able to knock down shots for us this year. Destiny has worked really hard this summer. We expect people outside of Bristol to get to know Sammy soon. She’s lived in the gym with Payton. Payton is a hard worker. We expect her to be a huge part of the program for the next three years.”

Look for the Panthers to feature senior Brianna McDowell along with a grouping of underclassmen who the staff are high on in Christina Haycox, Ava Stammer and freshman Sadie Mansfield.

“Coach King built a great program here,” states Ward. “That senior class left a legacy that we’re trying to uphold. Our girls hear the outside noise that we lost everyone and won’t be able to compete this season. Everyone in our program has a chip on their shoulder. For us the expectations are to win now. We’re building our culture in the weight room right now. Our girls have lifted like a high school football team.” Ward currently is the Garfield G-Men offensive line coach during the fall months.

Bristol will open the season against Garfield on November 19.

Bristol Panthers
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Randy Ward, 1st season
2021-22 Record: 22-4 (16-0), 1st place in NAC
2021-22 Post-Season Finish: Won Orwell District; Lost in Regional Semifinal to Dalton (50-38)

2021-22 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 54.2
Scoring Defense: 33.4

2021-22 Individual Leaders
Scoring: Belle Zirzow – 22.9
Rebounding: Belle Zirzow – 10.0
Assists: Brooklyn Swiger – 4.9
Steals: Jaylyn Mullenax – 3.9
Free Throw Percentage: Belle Zirzow – 72.0%
Three-Point Percentage: Jaylyn Mullenax – 37.7%

2022-23 Schedule
Nov. 19 – at Garrettsville Garfield
Nov. 22 – Lowellville
Nov. 28 – Conneaut
Dec. 1 – at Chalker
Dec. 5 – Lordstown
Dec. 8 – at Badger
Dec. 12 – St. John
Dec. 15 – at Windham
Dec. 19 – Maplewood
Dec. 22 – at Heartland Christian
Dec. 29 – at Champion
Jan. 2 – Heartland Christian
Jan. 5 – at Pymatuning Valley
Jan. 9 – Fairport Harding
Jan. 12 – at Mathews
Jan. 19 – Chalker
Jan. 23 – at St. John
Jan. 26 – Windham
Jan. 30 – at Lordstown
Feb. 2 – Open
Feb. 6 – Warren JFK
Feb. 9 – at Conneaut