Pilot Grove hopes that last year's growing pains leads to success in 2020-21
The Pilot Grove Lady Tigers basketball team had plenty of growing pains during the 2019-20 season.
While finishing eight games below the .500 mark for the season at 8-16 overall, the Lady Tigers also had one of the youngest teams in the area by far.
This season, the Lady Tigers return all but one player under first year coach Grant Fricke.
Although Fricke is no stranger to basketball, having coached the JV boys basketball team and junior high program, this will be the first as the Lady Tigers coach while taking over for long-time coach Linda Scott.
Fricke’s hope for the Lady Tigers is that they have an entire season.
“We will take advantage of every opportunity to safely get out on the court and compete,” Fricke said. “I’m not sure who my starters are going to be honestly. I’ve had five days in person with them. Everything else has been virtual workouts or they were with Coach Scott at the beginning.
“I’m still learning what each girl can contribute to the team, but I look to develop all of them as a double digit scorer. I want to have an average points scored a game up in the 60s as a team. I’m a very fast paced, offensive-minded coach, and look to implement that as I start to build a program.”
As for the team, Fricke said Pilot Grove is a pretty vertically challenge team. He said he will put the five best skilled girls out there on the court.
Returning starters this season for the Lady Tigers are senior Danae Lammers, juniors Natalie Glenn and Grace Phillips and sophomore Marci Lammers.
Other returning players for Pilot Grove are junior Leah Vollrath and sophomores Kaitlyn Maggard and Grace Peterson.
Key additions this season will be freshmen Emma Sleeper, Ava Hoff, Lauren Krumm and Maddie Watring.
Fricke said he knows it’s more of a luxury in the NBA by placing with 4 or 5 6’-8” guys, but he is a believer in positionless basketball.
“If you have the skills, you have the skills,” Fricke said. “We can adjust defensively to double team and rotate coverages.”
The good news is that two of the Lady Tigers top scorers from last season. While starting the last two seasons for Pilot Grove, Phillips finished with 284 points for an average of 11.8 ppg along with 102 rebounds for 4.5 rpg, 121 assists for 5.0 apg and 48 steals for 2.0 spg. Phillips also finished the season shooting 64.4 percent from the free throw line and 31 percent from the three-point arc.
In addition, Phillips also had 14 games with 10 or more points and is currently nine assists away from the school record.
Scott-her former coach who has coached Phillips the two previous seasons-said Grace is a super smart point guard that would rather pass than shoot. She said Phillips’ passing ability is unbelievable.
“Grace makes everyone around her better with her passing,” Scott said. “The amazing part of her game is her defense and rebounds. She is always where she needs to be on defense and is always there for her teammates. She would start for any team in our district. Last year every team keyed on her each game. I had a coach tell me that Grace scared them each game. The bigger the game the better she played.”
Glenn also returns for the Lady Tigers after finishing with 215 points for an average of 9.3 ppg along with 191 rebounds for 8.3 rpg and 50 steals for an average of 2.2 spg. Glenn also finished the season shooting 42.4 percent from the field.
Scott said Glenn was a 5’-6” post player for the Lady Tigers. “Natalie is too small to play point, but you use her there for her jumping ability,” Scott said. “She is a very strong player that will rebound against anyone. She improved so much during the season. There is no one better at rebounding than Natalie. We use her on top of our 3-2 zone and she is our key players on our press. She is also very fast and plays every play of the game.”
Fricke said the starting lineup for the season opener against Smithton will include Ava Hoff, Leah Vollrath, Danae Lammers, Grace Phillips and Emma Sleeper.
Note: The Pilot Grove girls fell to Smithton last year 45-44. Fricke said he looks for the Lady Tigers to have a competitive game the whole way as last year’s score.