The 2010-2011 Lady Longhorns basketball team will feature a blend of veteran leadership, several younger players up from last season’s junior varsity, a promising newcomer and one standout freshman all led by second-year head coach Kelly Krieg.
The new season tips off today, Nov. 23 in Wilson Dome against the Winslow Bulldogs.
Game time is 6 p.m.
The varsity returnees include Chioya Hill, Jaymi Carlen and Kelsey Waugh.
Taylor Rizza, Kayla Perry, Katie Jones and Molly Davis played mostly on the jayvees last season and will battle this year for varsity playing time.
Newcomer Teanna Lopez, a junior, is also on the varsity roster, rounded out by freshman Laine O’Donnell.
It’s unusual for a frosh to be on varsity, but Krieg says she has earned the spot by working hard on her game from this summer. “We expect her to continue that work ethic and contribute to our success,” Krieg said.
Lopez has also impressed the coach.
“We are excited to have Teanna this year,” said Krieg. “She brings a lot to the table than can help us be successful.”
Hill, only a sophomore, received considerable playing time last season at several different positions, filling in for injured players.
“She will be expected to be a leader at both ends of the court this season,” Krieg said.
Another returnee, Jaymi Carlen — a junior — started at point guard last season before an ankle injury slowed her.
This year, “she will be counted on to run the team and provide leadership,” the coach said.
Waugh joins the team with starting experience from last season, averaging about 6 ppg, as well as being a good rebounder and a solid defender.
“She was voted co-captain by her teammates,” said Krieg.
Davis was most valuable player on the junior varsity last season and this year has been selected a co-captain along with Waugh.
“She (Davis) worked hard on her game in the off season and we are excited to see her continue that work ethic on the varsity level,” Krieg said.
Although the varsity roster has only nine players, practices have been spirited.
“They are dress rehearsals for games and we expect kids to work as hard in practice and have it translate into game situation,” Krieg said.
The coach’s expectations are being met, “Our practices have been very competitive.”
Stressed during the practices are the fundamentals of the game, including passing, shooting, dribbling, defense and rebounding.
“With our lack of height, we want all our kids to be able to do those well,” Krieg said.
After watching the players in drills, the coach anticipates the team has potential “for good things if we are willing to do the little things necessary to win, including preparing to win each day by practicing well.”
In the East region, the perennially tough Snowflake Lobos are a championship favorite, with Alchesay a possible title contender.
“But we expect a tough game with each region opponent and want to be able to compete with everyone,” Krieg said.
If there is a lowlight in early season preparations for the coach, it is the disappointing turnout of just 27 student athletes for the three PHS teams.
“Our numbers are down… we want to see more kids playing basketball,” said Krieg. “But we do like the dedication and enthusiasm of those kids that are out for basketball.”
The highlight of the home season will undoubtedly be the Payson Holiday Hoops tournament to be held Dec. 28 and 29 in Wilson Dome.