by Mike Slodki
KANELANDâ€”You wouldn’t know this was a team that went 5-23 a year ago.
With the loss of only one player to graduation from a year ago, 11 returnees and a summer league season that was nothing to sneeze at, an improved season is not too much to ask if you’re fifth-year coach Ernie Colombe.
“We’re pretty excited,” Colombe said about his team that banged up most of 2009-10. “We don’t know what will happen record-wise, but I do know we’re improved, and the girls have worked real hard dating back to the spring with some girls playing AAU, lifting, running and summer league.”
Captains will number five for the Lady Knights: seniors Kris Bowen, Trinae Coachman, Emily Heimerdinger, Nicki Ott and Andie Strang.
“We rely on those seniors to step up for the team in a lot of ways,” Colombe said.
Strang and Heimerdinger have seen the most minutes of the captains throughout their varsity career.
“Emily’s really stepped up and she’s a lot better than she was at the end of last year. She wants success in basketball after having success on the soccer field; she got a taste of that and wants it to carry over. We definitely missed Andie down the stretch last year. She was hitting shots and was great on defense for us.”
Returning at the junior level are guards Tesa Alderman, McKinzie Mangers and Katie Taylor, and center Kelly Evers, fresh from a standout summer campaign.
“Tesa has the natural ability, we think, to be a great player in our conference. We’re trying to get her focused on some smaller things and details that maybe go unnoticed during games,” Colombe said. “Nicki also had a good summer and improved her shot.”
Six-foot-two center Cori Flowers, a transfer from Aurora Christian, joins Evers in the post.
“Realistically, we have five or six girls that people might be surprised by when it comes to contributions, based on last year,” Colombe said.
Colombe is joined by Tom Dillivan, and new assistant Kelsey Flanagan, a 2006 grad from KHS who played at DePauw in Indiana and was part of successful teams in the last decade.