The Pocahontas County High School Lady Warriors basketball team will pursue a familiar strategy this season – run the daylights out of opposing teams with their superior athleticism and achieve victory through hard work. The strategy has worked extremely well for the Lady Warriors, who have compiled an outstanding 59-14 record over the past three seasons.
Mike Kane, now in his second season as PCHS head coach, has the players he needs to implement a fast-paced game plan.
“They handle the ball pretty good, we do do a good job at that,” he said. “We are quick. Those are the two best strengths we have right now. And we understand the game – that means a lot – that they understand the concepts that we’re trying to do.”
Outrunning other teams will continue to be a preferred tactic.
“We’ll try to have a little bit more pressure, defensively,” said Kane. “We’ll probably press and try to trap a lot more and, if we can get the ball off the board, then we plan to run and try to beat the other people down the floor.”
Kane said team shooting is excellent.
“Our strong point is going to be our three-point shooting,” he said. “We’ll probably take more than we had last year, but we still want to work from the inside, too, because we think we can score on the inside and we need to do that to keep everything balanced.”
The coach is confident but has some concerns.
“We’re going to be relatively short,” he said. “We’re not going to have much height. That could hurt us playing some of the bigger teams. That’s my biggest concern is the height we have. We have Bobbie Jo [McNabb], she’s about 5-8, and Lorena Rose is about 5-7, and we have the Ryder girl, who is about 5-7. After that, we’re pretty short. We have guards who are between 5-2 and 5-4. But they’re very, very, very athletic.”
“Lorena will mostly be on the post and Beth will be on the wing,” said Kane. “They’ve come a long ways this year. They haven’t played a lot of varsity, but they’ll see more playing time this year, for sure.”
Returning starters Bobbie McNabb and Tristin Day have shown impressive skills, ever since they were freshmen.
“We have five juniors,” the coach said. “Of course, Bobbie McNabb and Tristin Day will be back for their third year. They started last year and got to play a lot their freshman year, so they’re really a good anchor point for us.”
The coach expects his other juniors to contribute, as well.
“We’re going to have to have some of those other juniors step up,” said Kane. “Jensen Dean and Natalie Hartzell are doing well and need to step up. Of course, Olivia Knisely is recovering from ACL surgery last year. She’s starting to progress pretty good and she’ll be in the guard slot.”
Lady Warrior fans have come to expect good things from small packages, especially players like sophomore Melissa Murphy. In her freshman year, Melissa wowed the crowd with her excellent ball-handling skills, zigging and zagging down the court, befuddling defenders. Now sophomores, Melissa and her twin sister Michelle will be double trouble for opposing teams – along with two other talented sophomores.
“Michelle had an ankle injury last year and she got shut down pretty early in the season,” said Kane. “But her ankle seems to be solid now, so she’ll see some time, along with Megan Galford. Megan does a good job, she runs the floor real well. Kayleigh Arbogast – she’ll be a sophomore – she’ll get pushed back and forth from JV and varsity. Megan and Kayleigh have a little bit of height and that could help us.”
Kane spoke very highly of his six freshmen and said Sarah Ryder would see varsity playing time. The coach said the other five freshmen – Brittany Sharp, Kourtney Cohenour, Lindsey Hartzell, Tiffany Hoover and Mary Kelley – will play mostly on JV. According to Kane, the freshmen are all very good players and represent a bright future for Lady Warrior basketball.
A competitive spirit, good camaraderie and love of the sport give the coach high hopes for the season.
“They’re really a good group of kids,” he said. “They all seem to get along real well together. The seniors have been good with the other girls. Our practices have been spirited and the kids are competing against each other and that’s what it takes to make a great team. It’s a pleasure to go to practice because they all want to play.”
The Lady Warriors will play at the Rogers Oil Classic on December 13 and 14. The first home game for the Lady Warriors is December 17 against their next-door rivals, the Bath County Lady Chargers. JV tipoff against the Lady Chargers is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.