Third-team IBCA All-State selection Candace Niemerg left the Dieterich basketball program for Lake Land College after scoring 1,592 points and grabbing 1,295 rebounds in her high school career.
Her departure for college hoops left the Lady Maroons with large shoes to fill, and coach Donetta Ohnesorge's team took the first step in solving that puzzle Thursday at the four-day Effingham Shootout.
"We lost a big inside game (from) last year with Candace," Ohnesorge said. "I feel with time we're going to be there."
After skipping out on a pair of other summer tournaments, Dieterich made its first appearance in live game action Thursday. Day one culminated in a 42-20 defeat to Salem in which the Lady Maroons experienced some growing pains.
"We've spent a lot of time in the gym with fundamentals," Ohnesorge said. "It's going to take some time to get these kids playing with one another. I've seen improvements even from the beginning of the day."
Playing without Niemerg for the first time in half a decade, Dieterich turned toward returning starters Mallorie Vahling, Courtney Flach and Taylor Wright to take on larger roles.
The trio scored four points apiece for the Lady Maroons against Salem, contributing 12 of Dieterich's 20 points.
"They're ready to be leaders I think," Ohnesorge said. "They're going to be good role models for these younger ones. I'm really proud of what they're bringing to the team."
Flach looked strong in the first half against the Lady Wildcats, scoring all four of her points in the opening 20 minutes. The to-be junior will again be the primary ball-handler for Ohnesorge's club, and will look to create more scoring chances off the dribble.
Wright hit a pair of open jumpers, displaying the ability to draw the defense away from the post where Vahling will take on a dramatically bigger role.