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Girls Basketball: Speed will be a strength for girls squad

Last winter, the Farmington girls basketball team began to transition to a more up-tempo style of play.

And with post players Abby Kenealy, Amanda Zylka and Carly Chell all out of the picture this season, the Tigers should be ready for a full-blown transformation. Third-year head coach Jason Berg said what his team lacks in size it will continue to make up for with depth and athleticism.

"Overall, depth will be the best we have had in the previous two years. We have 10 kids who will be able to contribute every night," he said. "Our athleticism overall will be better. We have kids that can play multiple positions, which will allow us flexibility in how we match up night to night. This team really fits the style I would like to play. We should be able to run and press 10 kids deep."

Up front in the Tigers' full-court press will be a trio of upperclassmen, the only three on the Farmington roster. Kirstee Rotty, an all-conference performer last season who scored a team-high 15.8 points per game, will be back in the lineup after missing the second half of the season with a broken foot. Despite the injury, Rotty, who recently signed to play basketball next season at the University of Sioux Falls, still led the team in three-pointers (30), free-throws (60), free-throw percentage (71.4) and steals (55).

Also pestering opposing ball-handlers will be a pair of junior guards, Tanna Howie and Lauren McHenry. Howie knocked down 24 three-pointers and scored 4.7 points per game, while McHenry added 37 steals and 3.1 points per game. Shutdown defender Nicole Clifton (2.1 ppg), athletic freshman Isis Alexander and Jamie Kenealy, a strong JV player last year, will also be in the mix on the perimeter as the Tigers look to replace the production lost to the graduation of seniors April Hayes and Sabrina Siple.

There appear to be fewer options on the interior, where sophomores Elena Koch and Sarah Silber and freshman Taylor Meyer are the most experienced returners. The threesome combined to score 4.5 points and grab 5.5 rebounds per game in limited minutes last season, compared to the 23.5 points and 17 rebounds per game averaged by Kenealy-Chell-Zylka.

"Losing Abby will affect our rebounding," said Berg, who also expects production at the forward spot from JV player Jordan Bridges. "We are going to have to be a very good rebounding team We need everyone to get 3-4 rebounds a night. We can not expect one person to carry the rebound load."

If the Tigers can get production from their wealth of young players, Berg expects them to compete with any team in the Missota Conference and section.

"We will have one of the youngest teams around," he said. "But all of the kids returning have experience on varsity or JV, so they should have an idea of the competitiveness of the league and section."

The Tigers maintained a 5-9 record in the Missota Conference last season, but their overall record fell from 16-11 in 2006-07 to 11-16 against an improved non-conference schedule last winter. Joining Berg on the coaching staff this season are Jon Graff, Joe McCarthy, Mike Woody, Jon Ostgaard, Jim Swedin and Kaitie Buelo.