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Miller to lead Lady ‘Cats in 2014

By Staff | Dec 3, 2014

Lady Wildcat basketball 2014

BY BRUCE

CRAWFORD

for the Tyler Star News

This season will mark the seventh different Lady Wildcat head coach in 15 seasons, and the fourth in the last six seasons. But, newly-hired Head Coach Allan Miller and Assistant Coach Jamie Natali will bring the stability and knowledge needed that the girls so desperately need.

The pair will inherit a team that won the H.I.T. Division II Championship last season and that should generate some excitement this season.

With four starters back, including center Cydney Blatt and point guard Taylor Cosper, Miller and Natali will see quite a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. However, the loss of Myah Charkawi — the school’s single-game high scoring leader — and Katie Shreve could cause some discomfort at the start. But, the return of sharp-shooting senior Hannah Stanley could ease the pain a bit. Also the ‘Cats return three-year senior letter-winner Kayla Hizer to help with the lost scoring of Charkawi.

This isn’t Miller’s first rodeo. He has coached quite a bit in the junior high program at Pine Grove, while Natali was a head coach in 2004 and was the boys’ assistant coach when the Wildcats won the state title back in 1987.

Miller knows the girls quite well, as he was their assistant coach last season under Dave Riggle. He knows what he has and what the girls can do. He also knows what they need to work on before the season. He has always wanted to be a head coach, but not being a teacher has limited his coaching opportunities in the high school ranks until this season.

“I’m excited and the girls are working quite hard on making this transition work. And I’m excited about that,” said Miller.

“However, the season isn’t about me or Coach Natali. We want the girls to know that we both want them to succeed and strive to be the best they can be, on and off the floor, as well in life.”

Blatt looks to be the go-to girl inside, while Cosper and Stanley will be the Lady ‘Cat main perimeter shooters. “Cydney is a threat and I’m so excited to watch her do what she does. She works hard and works on her inside game as well as her foul shooting, consistently.”

“Hannah eats and breaths basketball. She is very knowledgeable and it’s like having a coach on the floor. She always has a smile on her face and is working on her floor game defensively, as well as her ball handling skills.

“Cosper is in her third season on the point and I’m thrilled about her commitment to the sport. She works hard every day, and, like Hannah, always has a smile on her face. She is an excellent ball handler who can also shoot the rock,” added Miller.

‘Just like Hannah and Taylor, Kayla always has a smile on her face and it’s a rarity that you have that many girls on a team that have that trait. That makes it nice for us to coach, knowing that these girls want to learn and won’t get upset when we have to get on them. She is very fast and quick and she is probably our best defender. She needs to gain some confidence in her game, and when she does, look out.

Miller also mentioned that he wanted to get out and run with the ball when he can and be able to have his players move and shuffle their feet on defense.

With this in mind, he has quite a few players that can do just that, including freshmen Aubrey Neff, Collin Stewart and Malaya Price, along with sophomore Abby Still. “These girls get it. They are working hard and ours is a scrappy bunch,” said Miller.

It might take the coaches a while to find out what these girls can do both offensively and defensively. But they do know they are doing their best and only time will tell how much playing time they will get. The ‘Cats are returning several players from last year, including senior Jennifer Dahms, junior Darien Ritchie and sophomore Chelsea Baker.

“I’m looking forward to the challenges that this season will bring and hope we can strive to get better every practice and every game. If we can run the floor with reckless abandon, take good quality shots, while getting at it on the glass, we will have a successful season,” said Miller.

The Lady Wildcats will open the season against county rival Valley in the Lady Wildcat Christmas Classic at Bob Burton Gymnasium, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m.