The Lady Cougars Basketball team is looking to start stronger and continue off the momentum they had last year.
Head Coach Amanda Short, who is heading into her third season, wants to “take advantage of non-conference games” played early in the season to get ready for the Crossroads League play that will dominate the schedule in January and February.
Last year’s Lady Cougars struggled early in the season before a mid-season turnaround that saw them win five of their last seven conference games.
This year’s team has stronger offensive capabilities than previous years, which Short contributes to key players like Sierra Basista, Natalie Carpenter, Taylor Gregory and Elizabeth Fee.
Basista and Carpenter “are both good defenders and strong shooters,” Short said. The two senior guards both are approaching a career milestone of 1,000 points.
Freshman Taylor Gregory also is “a strong threat offensively,” Short said, and Fee is capable of getting a lot of points in transition.
With that kind of lineup, Short said the team will look to push the ball more and play at a faster pace.
“We have a lot of people who can score,” Short said. In past years, she said, the team’s strength was in its defense.
However, the team is facing struggles with depth due to various injuries.
Among those out for injuries is junior guard Rachel Parks, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Parks was expected to be a key contributor. Sophomore Nicolette DeVincentis, freshmen Nora Hopkins, Hailey Peters and Elizabeth Fee also have been sidelined with injuries.
Despite the injuries the team is facing, defense is still a big focus.
“The desire is to now play a full court defense with some jump and trap, a focus on pressure and an overall faster pace,” Short said.
Short is aiming to finish with a record of .500 or better, an achievement the team has not had since 2011-12 season.
She also wants to see the team make it into the conference tournament after being denied in a three-way tie last year. The top eight teams in the Crossroads League move into the post-season conference tournament.
Short has a staff this year of three people, including her husband Nathan who is returning as an assistant coach for the second year. Assistant Coaches Breckley Erny and Natalie Thomas have joined the staff for the first year.
The staff’s focus this season is to point out mistakes as they happen so they can be fixed right away.
Short said she expects her players to work hard and respond to instruction.
“The team has a lot of energy, a lot of heart and a lot of passion,” she said.