Competitive is the word head coach Matt Kinnard wants people to think of when they think of the Tyler Consolidated Lady Knight basketball team. “We want to be competitive, we need to be competitive,” he said. “We’re in a pretty tough area here in the Valley, and if we can be competitive against the teams we play here, we’ll do fine everywhere else.”
With the loss of only one senior, Chelsea Musgrave, to last years team, coach Kinnard has several players back ready to take on that competitive spirit. Twenty two girls are out for the team this year, allowing the second year head coach to have players on board that are already familiar with his coaching style.
“The kids are more confident this year I think,” he said. “They came into the season doing the little things better, making better decisions, understanding what is expected from them from the beginning. That’s going to make a difference in how we play.”
Seniors Tiffany Lohri and Christy Jones, both return to likely starting positions for the Knights, Jones as a sure-footed outside shooter and Lohri to the point guard slot. Hayley Acree, Ashley Long, and Magen Thorn return as seniors to the team looking for playing time.Also vying for starting positions will be five juniors: Heather Suter, Lynsey Casteel, Maddie Schlabowski, Caitlyn McCaman and Mallory Hammond; four sophomores: Keri Suter, Samantha Jones, Whitney Williams, and Tiffany Kernan.
Eight freshmen join the Lady Knight line-up including: Torrye Cline, Allison Wable, Logann Long, Haylea Lemasters, Taylor Vossen, Cortney Daugherty, Sierrah Holmes and Makayla Clegg.
“Last year it was like we had a JV team playing a varsity team schedule,” Kinnard said. “It’s not going to be like that this year. The girls have worked hard to get better and I think it shows. We have several coming back with experience and a lot of younger kids that want to play.”
As far as set positions go, the coach has not yet determined who will play where, but says there are several possibilities and match-ups that he is considering. Lohri and Keri Suter will likely split time at the point guard position and most likelly Casteel in the pivot position.
Lack of real height would pose a problem for most teams, but Kinnard is betting that this group of Lady Knights will be able to overcome that deficit with their strength, physicality, and overall competitiveness. “When I ask them for 100 percent, they give me 110. They want to do well, and that’s half the battle.”
Cathy Boggs will be assisting Kinnard this season and will coach the JV team.
Tyler Consolidated hopes to improve on last years win total of four and make a better showing come Sectional time than in the ’08 season.
The Lady Knights open their season with a tough match right off the bat with Magnolia at Magnolia on Dec. 8.
The theme the girls basketball team at Paden City High School will be working around this year is “believing”, thanks to first year head coach Rick Bertozzi.
“If we can get them to believe they can win, we’ve met half our goal for the season,” he said. “They have to believe that any team is beatable, any game is winnable.”
And Bertozzi has a slew of girls out for the team to get his message to.
Twenty-one young ladies are out for the Wildcat line-up this year, with less than half vying for starting positions.
“It’s good though,” the coach said. “We’re going to start with fundamentals so everybody will be on the same page and work our way up from there.”
“Every one of our girls is ready for this season to begin, they’ve been working very hard and seem to be excited to start playing.”
The Lady Wildcats return four from last season, Amanda Tallman, Courtney Conaway, Ali Bertozzi, and Erica Sapp, coincidentally, all seniors this year.
The Wildcats strength throughout the season will fall on the shoulders of these four returning seniors, along with new comer to the varsity line-up, freshman Megan Cutlip.
The coach is looking to work Cutllip as a point guard, a true point guard.
“She’s going to go through some growing pains, but she’s a hard worker and she wants to do well, she’ll be alright.”
“We’re not really big, but we have some height,” the coach said. “Our ball handling skills aren’t bad, and we do have some speed. We just need the confidence to let ourselves do well. And we’re working on that in every practice.”
Juniors Meagan Barker, Adrianna Gilbert, Joni Myers and Kayla Thomas will all be vying for positions with the varsity team as well as sophomores Dominque Craft, Amanda Heasley, and Sabrina Midcap and freshmen Logan Cosper, Samantha Shreves and Tiffany Palmer.
Gerel Khulan, Jondrak Khunisorn, Magdalena Goertler, Ziyi (Vickie) Xue, Maria Martins, and Olena Terentyeva are exchange students at Paden City High School, and have all also signed on to be part of the team as well.
All in all, the Lady Wildcats just want to be contenders. “I want them to always play like we’re two points behind, and quit paying so much attention to the scoreboard throughout the game,” Bertozzi said. “Once we get ourselves talked into believing that we can win, we deserve to win, our attitudes will change and good things will happen for us.”
Assisting Bertozzi with the coaching duties throughout the ’09 season will be Ed Amos.
Paden City had four wins last season, but if things go the way the head coach and players think they will, four wins is just a drop in the bucket.
The Lady Wildcats will begin their season on Dec. 8 at Clay Battelle and will host their own tournament at Bob Burton gymnasium on Dec. 11 and 12.