Nobody doubted the process for the Pilot Grove Lady Tigers basketball team in 2018-19.
Although the Lady Tigers may have surprised a few teams by finishing 20-7 overall and 6-3 in the Central Activities Conference last year, they were no surprise to head coach Linda Scott.
However with four players lost to graduation and only two returning starters, Scott said the Lady Tigers will need to be that surprise team again this season.
“We only have four upperclassmen on our roster,” Scott said. “Seven of our 11 players are freshmen and sophomores. Everyone must play well together for us to succeed. We will need to use our speed in the open court. Our defense will need to pressure more than last season. We want steals and touches every play.
“We are small so blocking out will be huge for us on the boards. Early season we will be a work in progress. We need to find out who is going to step up to be our leaders, who is out on the court to just play or who is out on the court to find a way to help the team win. We could be good if we play hard every play and play together. We set a high level of play last season, so we’ll need to play at that level again this season.”
But will the two returning starters be enough to carry the Lady Tigers again this season, especially in a loaded conference with Community R-6, Cairo and Glasgow.
Scott said the CAC was so strong last year that three teams wound up winning a district title. She said Community R-6 also finished third at state last year and have everyone back, plus a super strong freshmen class. Cairo also finished in the top eight in Class 2, she said. “Glasgow is a strong team also this season,” Scott said. “We want to finish in the middle somewhere.”
With no superstars on this year’s team, Scott said the Lady Tigers have nine players that will see a lot of playing time. She said this will allow Pilot Grove to press, run, play hard every play because everyone is on the same playing level.
“It will come down to the kids that work the hardest in practice and games, that want to play as a team and find a way to improve and win,” Scott said. “We got a taste of winning last season. We want to work towards being a factor in districts again this season.”
With 40 total years of coaching as a head coach, assistant and in junior high, Scott knows what it takes to get the job done night in and night out and it will all start with last year’s returning starters in Grace Phillips and Reagan McFatrich.
Phillips, who started at point guard last year for the Lady Tigers, returns after averaging 6.3 ppg along with 3.4 rpg, 2.9 apg and 2.2 spg.
Scott said Phillips is a great passer, good shooter and works very hard every play on both ends of the floor.
As for McFatrich, who averaged 1.0 ppg and 1.1 rpg in 2018-19, Scott sees her more of a defensive specialist and a strong physical player. “Reagan has good leadership and is probably the hardest working player on the team every day,” Scott said.
Other returning players this season for Pilot Grove are Abby Schupp, Natalie Glenn, Natalie Rentel, Leah Vollrath, Danae Lammers and ClariaMae Roth.
Schupp came off the bench last year for the Lady Tigers and averaged 2.2 ppg and 2.4 rpg.
“Abby was our sixth man and played a lot on the offensive end of the floor,” Scott said.
Glenn and Rentel also came off the bench last year and averaged 1.6 ppg and 2.6 rpg and 1.5 ppg and 2.4 rpg, respectively.
Scott said Glenn is a great rebounder, very strong and an outstanding defensive player. As for Rentel, Scott said she is a good rebounder and inside player.
Vollrath, Lammers and Roth will also bring something different this season for Pilot Grove. “Leah is a good all-around player with a nice shot,” Scott said. “As for Danae, she is a good three-point shooter and knows the game very well. ClariaMae, meanwhile, is strong and plays hard every play.”
Key additions to the team this season for Pilot Grove are Marci Lammers, Kaitlyn Maggard and Grace Peterson.
“I’m not really a stat coach,” Scott said. “Only stat I worry about is wins and losses.”