by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARKâ€”Look beneath the surface if you’re worried about Kaneland girls basketball in 2009-10.
While the Lady Knights finished 8-19 a year ago, with a 3-11 mark in Western Sun Conference play, they did manage a playoff victory for the first time since 2005.
In addition, even though Kaneland lost seven seniors to graduation, the team returns a core of players that saw quality minutes in the starting lineup.
“We definitely lost a lot in terms of graduation,” fourth-year coach Ernie Colombe said. “We are fortunate that we do have Andie Strang, Mallory Carlson, Emily Heimerdinger and Kelly Evers back. Emily and Andie were in our rotation the entire season and gained valuable experience.”
With Strang and Heimerdinger looking forward to bigger roles, Carlson and Evers look to join them in creating a nucleus.
“Mallory knows that she has to step up this season, and we feel like she can do that. Kelly played on the sophomore (team) and the varsity at the end of the year, and we think they’ve all improved,” Colombe said.
New additions to the varsity roster primed for contribution are Nicki Ott, Emma Bradford, Tesa Alderman and Trinae Coachman.
Also making up the Lady Knights roster is Kris Bowen, Tatiana Brown, McKinzie Mangers and Jessica Stouffer.
All will need to subscribe to a “zero-tolerance” policy when it comes to turnovers, a stat that plagued the team a year ago.
â€œTurnovers really did hurt us last season. We know that we have a young team and we have to be patient in some aspects this season. We are emphasizing taking care of the basketball and knowing what a good pass and a good shot is,” Colombe said.
Working on that aspect will go a long way to adding success to the roster.
“The biggest positive we have right now is that we really have a group of kids that enjoy being around each other and want to work together to get better,” Colombe said.
With the end of this coming season brings the end of the WSC, Colombe said that focusing on the present will help in the future.
“We believe playing in this conference will prepare us well for the move to the new conference. There are no easy games, and the new conference will be tough night-in and night-out,” he said.
The girls began their season on Tuesday in Aurora against Rosary.