Kelly Krieg tips off her Lady Longhorn head coach varsity career today, Nov. 24, against one of Arizona’s finest small school girls basketball programs — the Winslow Bulldogs.
Legendary coach Don Petranovich, a Winslow High School alum, has led the Lady Dogs to more than 600 wins, 22 regional championships and six state titles.
The most recent came in 2008 when Winslow whipped Ganado 54-50 for the crown.
Last year in the state title game, the Lady Dogs were upset by Monument Valley.
The accomplishments of Petranovich, known as “Petro” by his longtime friends, have earned him a spot in the prestigious National Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
This season, fans and boosters from around the conference are predicting that Petranovich could have the most talent-laden team in his lengthy career.
Those lofty forecasts don’t bode well for the Lady Longhorns’ visit to Arizona’s windy city, mostly because PHS is a team short on experience and height. The tall and talented players that were the foundation of the Lady Longhorn program for the past four years graduated with the Class of 2009.
Krieg calls her first varsity squad, “a blue collar type of team” that will try to make up for its deficiencies “by doing the little things necessary to compete for wins and will look to play our best basketball at the end of the season.”
The “little things’ she speaks of are solid defense, boxing out on both the offensive and defensive boards and rebounding.
The 2009-2010 team features five seniors — Maddie Nossek, Holly West, Katie Welker, Jordan Klabbatz and Ciara Romance — but none were members of last year’s starting rotation.
Nossek was recently elected captain of the team and has drawn praise from the coach who says she, “is a leader by example, very athletic, a hard worker and will see time at both post and wing.”
Romance has also attracted Krieg’s attention, “We are looking forward to having Ciara play the best basketball of her career this season.”
While the team has a good number of seniors for a 3A school, the Lady Horns have two juniors — Rylee Halenar and Kelsey Waugh — who could shoulder much of the offensive and defensive chores during the upcoming campaign.
“Rylee possesses speed an quickness that will be an asset to our team,” Krieg said. “While she is very skilled, there is room for improvement and she has worked hard in practice each and every day.”
Halenar, who also starred on the Lady Longhorn volleyball team, was recently elected a team co-captain.
The coach is predicting Waugh will “provide outside shooting as well as rebounding from a guard position.”
Among the newcomers on the team are Jaymi Carlen, Molly Davis, Katelyn Curtis and Chioya Hill.
Carlen, Davis and Curtis are sophomores and Hill is a freshman.
Krieg anticipates Carlen will see playing time at guard and lauds her as “a good athlete who has worked hard in practice.”
About Hill, the coach says, “We are excited about her and the potential she has. So, far she has shown the will to realize that potential.”
Also traveling to Winslow with the varsity will be the jayvee team coached by Yvette Harpe and coach Kari McCleskey’s freshman squad.
Jennifer Plumb, a former Lady Longhorn standout, is serving this season as a varsity assistant coach.