Girls basketball preview: Experience now an advantage for TigersAfter two years with only one senior on the roster the Tiger girls have plenty of experienced players.
By: Matt Steichen, The Farmington Independent
The Farmington girls basketball team has had just one senior on its roster each of the last two seasons — Kirstee Rotty in 2008-09 and Lauren McHenry last season.
That was not looked at as a positive at the time, but it now serves as an advantage for the orange and black heading into the 2010-11 season. The Tigers are blessed with plenty of experience. They have eight seniors and 11 returning letterwinners — including eight players back who have already competed in two years of varsity basketball for head coach Jason Berg.
“The kids should have a good idea of what is expected of them and what it takes to compete night in and night out at the varsity level,” Berg said. “This will be the first time in five years we will be starting the year with only juniors and seniors on the varsity. The experience of the last two years should really be a strength for us. Seven of these players played in the section final two years ago as sophomores and freshmen.”
In that 2008-09 section final loss to Rochester John Marshall, the Tigers, who had averaged 55.8 points per game during the season, were held to 38 points. The graduation loss of Rotty and her 15 points per game average was never fully overcome last season as the team scored 47.8 per game and managed just 31 against a tough Owatonna defense in the second round of the section tournament.
Junior guard Taylor Meyer averaged 12.4 points per game last season and is the most likely candidate to carry more of the offensive load. She is one of several players on the team who spent the off-season trying to improve her skills on the offensive end.
“Our kids put in a lot of time over the summer working on their individual offensive games. I think we have five or six players who can average 8-10 pts a game. I really believe our depth will be a strength,” Berg said. “We will need players to play to their strengths on offense and take advantage of scoring opportunities when they have the chance. We can’t depend on one or two people to score. We need everyone to contribute on offense.”
Other returning varsity letterwinners who could provide some scoring on the outside include Jamie Kenealy (5.3 points, 4.2 rebounds), Isis Alexander, Shelby Calhoun, Gabby White and Paige Steele, who is back after suffering a season-ending leg injury midway through last season.
In the post, the Tigers will look to senior Elena Koch, who averaged 8.7 points and 7.5 rebounds last season. Jordan Bridges (5.7 points, 6.0 rebounds), Sarah Silber, Jess Gaalswyk, Desi Loftus and Mariah Mincke give the team plenty of depth and size inside, which gives Berg the option of playing a less aggressive style of defense than he has in past seasons.
“Our overall length should be a huge strength — we are actually going to change how we play defense based on the size of our kids returning. We are going to play more of a position defensive system and not try to be as disruptive,” Berg said. “Our goal is going to be to force contested perimeter jump shots. With our size and length we should be able to keep the ball out of the lane and really make it hard on team to get easy shots.”
The Tigers open the season Tuesday, Nov. 30, with a rematch against the Huskies in Owatonna.