WEST ALEXANDRIA — First-year Twin Valley South girls basketball coach Lindsey Cole is looking for growth from her team for the 2018-19 season.
“We have to keep a mentality that we are running a marathon, not a sprint. We know that we have a lot of things that we are going to continue to improve on throughout this season. We may make a lot of mistakes, but we have to learn from them and grow,” she said. “It is important for us to have the mindset of being a better team today than we were yesterday, and a better team tomorrow than we were today.”
The Panthers, 8-15 last season, will be looking to replace its top two scorers from a year ago with the loss of Mylan Crews and Kelsie Shafer.
Crews was 2nd team All-Conference and led the team in scoring and steals last season. Shafer was Special Mention All-Conference, and second in scoring and led the team in rebounding.
Back to lead the charge for South are four players who saw significant time last season with Taylor Bowers, Madison Johnson, Makenzie Neal and Evelyn Woodgeard.
“We are looking to Taylor to help fill the gap offensively. She is confident in taking the ball to the basket so we will rely on her ability to do that as well as her tough defense,” Cole said of Bowers, a senior. “Taylor can defend other teams’ top players with her combination of speed and size.”
“Madison was second in steals last year and she will look to lead the team with her scrappy defense. I look to her to contribute offensively, as well, with the ability to use her speed to beat defenders to the basket,” Cole said Johnson
Neal is a sophomore forward.
“Kenzie is a returning varsity starter who can do it all for us,” Cole said. “She led the team in blocks and was a strong rebounder last year. She can play just about any position offensively and I look for her to really contribute offensively this year.”
Woodgeard is a senior guard.
“Evelyn is currently rehabbing a sprained ankle but we hope to have her back in the next few weeks. Evelyn brings a lot of leadership to our team even while she is off the court,” Cole said.
Also back this season are Lexi Bennett, Maegan Carson and Alyssa Clark.
“Lexi will be crucial to our defense this year. She is a very quick player and can read and steal passes. She can handle the ball and should be a good distributor on offense,” Cole said.
Maegen Carson is a senior forward.
“Maegen can play several positions for us and can shoot the ball well. I expect Maegen to help us in scoring the ball and be a versatile player,” Cole said.
Clark, a junior, will play forward.
“Alyssa is a tough defender and although opponents may outsize her, she keeps good position and can make it tough for them to score. I look for her to keep improving offensively and helping us score the ball down low,” Cole said.
Sophomore Taylor Clark is an addition to the varsity.
“Taylor has established herself as a consistent rebounder for us and a solid defender. She has a nice shot and can attack and score, as well. She will make an immediate impact this year,” Cole said.
Cole believes her team has the potential to match last year’s record.
“Overall, this team has a lot of potential. This roster is full of girls who have tremendous athletic ability. From our first few scrimmages and preview game, we have been a little nervous and not shown our true ability. It is my hope that everyone settles in, we can cut down on our turnovers, and we can begin to be effective offensively and score the ball,” Cole said. “We would be happy to equal an 8 win season like last year, but we will definitely have to find a rhythm offensively and put some points up before we can do that.”
As for the Cross County Conference, Cole is looking for her team to be competitive.
“The CCC is going to be competitive this year with a lot of teams returning a lot of talent. We hope to compete and win some league games,” she said.
South, which plays seven straight road games to start the season, will play on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23-24, at Northridge, in the CCC/SWBL Challenge. The Panthers will play Carlisle on Friday at 6 p.m., and play host Northridge on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The following week South will continue its road trip by playing at Dayton Jefferson on Tuesday, Nov. 27 in a varsity only contest and at Bethel on Thursday, Nov. 29.
The Panthers first home contest won’t be until Monday, Dec. 10 against Dixie.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH