There's a familiar new face at the helm for the Ridgewood Spartan girls basketball team this season. Dawn Lewis will take over the reins this year.

There’s a familiar new face at the helm for the Ridgewood Spartan girls basketball team this season. Dawn Lewis will take over the reins this year.

Lewis coached for the Cambridge Vikings for eight seasons, two as the frosh-soph coach and six as a head coach. Lewis compiled a 91-58 record, including a Lincoln Trail Conference championship in 2003-04.

Lewis is definitely excited about taking the helm for the Spartans.

“I’ve had many great opportunities to coach young athletes over the years,” she said. “The greatest rewards are watching my players from into productive young ladies in society. It is especially nice to be invited back into their lives for events like weddings and baby showers.

“However, in order for these occasions to happen, I have to build trust with my players, it takes time and mutual respect to grow trust like that and I am hopeful this will be an outcome of this season,” she said.

Lewis is joined on the bench by Renae Tubergen, who returns as the frosh-soph coach for Ridgewood. Tubergen is beginning her fourth year in the assistant coach position.

The Spartans, thanks to a large freshman class will have, the most players on the roster they’ve had in recent years. Eight freshman have started the season and join 10 girls on the varsity squad for a total of 18 Spartans beginning the season.

Senior Carlie Barman will be beginning her final season in a Ridgewood uniform. Barman, an All-Conference, All-Area, and All-State honorable mention point guard will be looking to add to her 1,000 point total this season.

Other varsity returners include fellow seniors Grayce Spicher, Lexi Boberg and Hannah Akers, and juniors Lizzy Ratliff, Megan Kenney and Lauren Curry.

The Spartans will need to focus on finding some offense to replace Emily Kenney and Marcy and Mollie Shannon, who have all moved on to play either basketball or softball at the collegiate level.

Lewis and the rest of the Spartans know the challenges facing them.

“We are aware of the different challenges facing us this year,” Lewis said. “Our practices have been very intense, and we are all aware that the transition to a different system will take time.

“I’m looking forward to building great relationships with my new players on the team,” she said. “Right now we’re working very hard to improve on our weaknesses.”

The Spartans season will begin on Monday, November 13, as they host the Ridgewood Thanksgiving Tournament at AlWood High School.

The Spartans will open against Bushnell-Prairie City at 6 p.m. on Monday. On Tuesday, they will square off at 7:30 p.m. against Rockridge. Thursday’s schedule has Ridgewood playing Riverdale at 7:30 p.m., and on Friday the Spartans will finish pool play against Elmwood.

In looking ahead at the conference, all eyes will be on the returning state champion Annawan Bravettes and their own All-Stater Jade VanHyfte.

Going into the season Annawan has to be considered the favorite. However, after that, things in the LTC could get very interesting. The Spartans could find themselves in a battle for the top half of the conference with some familiar foes. Princeville, Wethersfield will look to battle for a position in the top of the conference, and the Spartans will have a fight on their hands if they hope to finish in the thick of the conference standings.