After a quality season a year ago, Lady Tiger basketball could be primed to take a leap forward in 2012-13.
Glen Rose posted a 19-12 record in 2011-12 with a district mark of 7-3, as it finished second. The Lady Tigers beat Bridgeport in the first round and then lost to eventual state champion Abilene Wylie.
“Our biggest hurdle the last few years has been winning that first playoff game,” said coach Sherre Hill. “Getting the win over Bridgeport was valuable for our returning players because it gave them a lot of confidence; it felt like a turning point for a lot of the kids. We played well in the second half against Abilene Wylie, and I think the girls realized if we do things right we can play with those types of teams. You tend to remember that last game more than anything else, so hopefully we can pick up where we left off.”
Hill believes her team’s greatest strength out of the gate will be its ability to pressure the ball defensively.
“On the other hand, we have to block out and rebound better because we’re so short, and we also have to be able to push the ball without turnovers so we can play a fast game,” she said.
Looking to the roster, senior guard Reilly Junge and senior forward/post Destiny Ponce were both first team all-district selections a year ago. Junge even received all-region honors.
“Reilly is our ball handler,” Hill said. “She sees the floor so well and pushes it in transition well. She can get to the basket in a hurry. I think her defense will be improved and she’s our floor leader.
“Destiny is our post player on the inside, where her strength benefits her. She worked on her moves and I think it will be key that she improves as our season goes along.”
Senior guard Shelby Rotan, senior forward Kiffany Kelly and junior forward Kayla Goebel each garnered second team all-district honors.
“Shelby brings quickness, she’s a real hustler on defense and she has improved her three-point shooting,” Hill said. “Kiffany is very good on defense, especially in our press. Her three-point shooting has improved, along with her rebounding.
“Kayla is one who can play anywhere. She’ll rebound aggressively and she worked hard this summer by playing a lot. She can shoot inside or out, which makes her hard to guard.”
Senior guard Samantha Montoya and sophomore forward Kelsey Potter both received an all-district honorable mention.
“Samantha works extremely hard and is very coachable,” Hill said. “She can do whatever the teams needs. She’s quiet, but leads by example.
“Kelsey got some playing time as a freshman, and she played all summer to improve. She plays very hard and fights for rebounds. She’s another very versatile player.”
Other upperclassmen include senior guard Kate Sammons-Goen and junior guard Mary McPherson.
“Kate is a newcomer, but she has some good offensive skills,” Hill said. “She’ll have to figure out what her role is. Mary is skilled and patient. She sees the floor well and is very coachable.”
Remaining underclassmen are sophomore guard Ashlan Bernard, sophomore forward Meredith Odom and freshman forward Madi Gibson.
“Ashlan is very quick and she’s a good passer because she sees the floor well,” Hill said. “Meredith had a summer of hard work to improve a lot. She’s very strong and has some height that could help us. If she’ll continue to work on her ball handling and shooting, she can be a key varsity player.
“Madi is a raw freshman, but she worked really hard this summer. She can play anywhere and I think she’ll be a good rebounder for us. She understands the game very well.”
When asked about her top shooter, Hill focused on what the team needs.
“I don’t know that anyone is our clear-cut best shooter; what I hope is that we have three or four that light it up,” she said. “That’s what we need to be hard to guard and we have that potential.”
The Lady Tigers open the season on Saturday at home against Grandview after the 5A regional volleyball matches conclude. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m., but could begin earlier.
“It usually takes us a while to get used to playing together with a lot of kids coming out of volleyball, but we have some early games that will be tough,” Hill said. “If we play well, we’ll win. If we don’t, we’ll lose. I’m looking for our kids to be coachable early in the season and execute to win those tight games.”
District play begins Jan. 4 against Venus.
“I’m sure the average person on the street will pick Stephenville to win our district; hopefully they would at least put us in second place,” Hill said. “I think Alvarado, Venus and Hillsboro will all be improved. If our kids step up like they’re capable of, then we can play with Stephenville. Mental toughness is going to be huge.
“A number of our girls have played high-level AAU games since last season and learned what that’s all about. Hopefully that experience is going to help us against Stephenville.”
The Lady Tigers hope to be busy for some time after the regular season concludes on Feb. 5.
“We don’t want to stop in the first or second round of the playoffs,” Hill said. “We have some seniors who have put a lot into the program and they want to go further. In order to get there, we have to set some smaller goals – the most important one being ‘play as a team’, because that’s what will bring us success.”