Depth, knowledge of system charges girls basketball in ‘11-’12

Photo: Lauren Zick (left) and teammate Ashley Castellanos are two new additions to varsity girls hoops that look to make an impact. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sixth-year coach Ernie Colombe has the table set for success when it comes to KHS girls basketball.

Now it just needs the mix of experience and youth to add something positive to the table.

Despite a first-round exit a year ago, KHS improved to 13-15, up from nine wins in 2009-10.

The lower class levels had an astounding combined record of 49-1.

Plus, the Lady Knights return four players that found key minutes a year ago.

Adding the new additions, the Lady Knights’ depth could be a strength, one that’s integral to any hope to improving a 3-7 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.

“We’re pretty excited and the kids have been working real hard,” Colombe said. “We have a roster of 14, and right now we have maybe 12 that can start. We have a lot of depth, and it brings new challenges. We’re just trying to find ways to utilitze everyone.”

The girls in the program have been playing the same type of basketball for three years now, making things easier on the coaching staff.

“We have the girls playing the same way now. In past years, what would take us a week of practice to learn now just takes us one day,” Colombe said.

Returning to the fold is senior center Kelly Evers.

“She averaged around 11 points last year. Last year, we had girls that would score a bunch in different games, and she was our go-to player for much of the season, and I think we see that happening again. What we’re seeing is the girls that haven’t played with her before are learning how to use a post player,” Colombe said.

Returning teammates of Evers are returning junior starter Emma Bradford, junior Lexee Guerra and sophomore Marina Schaefer.

“Lexee’s stepped up and become more vocal this year, and she’s part of the guards that are stepping up. Emma’s improved and is a player to watch. Marina has improved, and the biggest thing is that she’s playing with confidence,” Colombe said.

Making the leap to varsity from the vaunted sophomore squad of a year ago are girls like guards Sarah Grams, Aly Harner, Ali Liss, Lauren Zick and Ashley Castellanos.

Looking to score some minutes are junior Allyson O’Herron, already inserted into the starting lineup early on, along with fellow starter Ashley Prost at forward. Seeing time at the forward spot are Brooke Harner and Alex Lyons, while newcomer Liz Barnette plays at the post.

“We got a big group of new players that can contribute. Girls like Grams and Liss and Brooke Harner have played well in practice and Prost has played well at the ‘4’ spot,” Colombe said.

Colombe hesitates to provide a desired record for the upcoming campaign.

“I don’t set a benchmark of winning and losing, because I think that’s a byproduct of several things. What we can control is trying to start an identity. I’d like to see what we are defensively, first and foremost.

The Lady Knights began this past week at Immaculate Conception and have their first non-tourney game on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at East Aurora. The first NIB-12 game is Friday, Dec. 2, vs. Morris.