Optimism’s not something that’s supposed to bubble over following a 2-20 season, but don’t try to convince Whitko girls basketball coach Justin Jordan.

You’d probably be wasting your time.

Jordan’s eager to get his second season in charge of the Wildcats underway, which he’ll do Friday when Whitko happens to open at his alma mater, Fort Wayne North.

“We return everybody, and we actually had a really good summer,” Jordan said. “We were in the Carroll League, where we got to play two games every Tuesday and Thursday. We competed, and we won some games against a pretty high level.”

Whitko also hosted an 11-school shootout of its own and went 3-1 in that event.

“I had a senior tell me they’ve never done a summer league before, so that was kind of an eye opener,” said Jordan, who is the Wildcats’ fourth head coach over the last six years. “They’re not used to winning a lot, but we won some games over the summer.”

Indeed, Whitko’s not won a lot. That 2-20 finish last season followed a 1-17 record the year before, and an 8-38 mark over the two years preceding that.

Kloe Krieg, thrown into the heat of varsity battle as a freshman last winter, leads the list of returnees after averaging a team-high 11.4 points and 1.6 steals last winter.

Others back include Katelynn Cripe, who averaged 4.3 points as a ninth-grader; senior Kylie Fugett, who was at 3.9 points and 2.7 rebounds; junior Kristen Schipper, who chipped in 2.8 points and 1.6 steals; and juniors Nadia Rhoades and Zoey Gaff, who combined for 3.6 points and 7.2 rebounds.

Unfortunately for the Cats, junior Brookelynn Coburn is out until at least January with a knee injury after pacing last season’s club in both rebounding (4.6) and field goal percentage (41) to go with 3.1 points.

Coburn suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during Carroll League play.

“That’s a big blow losing her,” Jordan said. “I don’t really have a post player that’s definitely going to play a lot right now, but Zoey and Nadia can rebound.”

The post aside, the coach has plenty of players he’s excited about overall.

Krieg, who hit 42-of-134 3-pointers (31.3%), is “a really good shooter,” per Jordan. “Teams keyed on her last year with double or triple teams at times, but she was able to get stronger this summer and improve her ball-handling.”

Krieg, Fugett and Schipper make up three of Jordan’s anticipated starters, while the other two will likely be freshmen Adryianna Phillips and Braisha Harrison.

“They’ll both make an immediate impact,” Jordan said. “They’re good scorers and good facilitators, and they will help us tremendously with handling ball pressure.”

That’s one area in which Whitko was frankly woeful last year. The Cats averaged 22.6 turnovers — more than six per every assist.

Eryn Watmough, a senior move-in from Warsaw who did not play the last two seasons, is another individual Jordan says will help with “stretching the floor.”

Now in his second season heading up the program, the coach says increased familiarity has made a difference.

“The girls are used to me now,” said Jordan, who was an Indiana All-Star and the state’s No. 2 scorer at 27.7 points per game in 2008-09. “We were basically able to pick up where we left off after last year. It’s been all business, and with the (Three Rivers) Conference being so senior-heavy last year, I think we’ve got a chance to win some games there (after finishing 0-9 last season).

“I don’t want to put any pressure on our players,” Jordan said, “but I’m definitely optimistic.”