Numbers and spirit up for CGHS girls

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Inheriting a program that won only one game last season, first-year girls’ coach Susan Barton has already achieved the first step in building a winner at Canton-Galva.

She’s got enough players to fill a roster.

Granted, 11 of the 16 girls who are out for the team this season are freshmen, but that still puts Barton well ahead of last season when the Eagles started with only eight players. Before the season was over, one quit and another was injured.

The Eagles won their one game-against Central Christian-with only five players in uniform.

Having so few players last season limited strategic options last season.

“They’ve hardly had any girls out in the past, so they haven’t been able to play full-court press or man-to-man or anything else,” Barton said.

“It’s been such a learning time for them in practice (this season). We’ve done nothing but man-to-man.”

Barton comes to the position as a former junior high basketball coach at Hutchinson Trinity and Little River. She also was the head volleyball coach at Little River for two seasons and last year became an assistant volleyball coach at Canton-Galva.

When the basketball position opened, she knew she was interested.

“I had seen the junior high (basketball team) last year and I knew some of the high school girls through volleyball-I felt like there was potential there,” she said.

Barton welcomes two seniors. One of them, 5-9 Ashley Scott, tore her ACL during the volleyball preseason and won’t play until mid-January. Barton sees Scott’s height and strength as being key to the team’s success as the season progresses.

“She’s my only big girl,” Barton said. “She’s the only one who’s taller than me in the huddle-and that’s sad. We’re short.”

The other senior is Clari Becker.

“She’s quicker than snot and led the team in steals the last couple of years,” Barton said. “She’s a good little player-very good defensively.”

Two juniors will play key roles. One of them, Shae Steenson, will play in the post at 5-6.

“She should do a pretty good job, she’s pretty strong,” Barton said.

The other junior, Ashley Unruh, is 5-7. “She’s always played a guard position before, but for me she’s going to play a high-post guard,” Barton said. “We’re probably going to use her in different ways this year than she’s probably been used before.”

Courtney Rump, the team’s only sophomore, is listed at 5-9. “She’ll play probably in the low post, and is just learning to control her body.”

Of those 11 freshmen, Barton expects Ashley Jones, at 5-2, to see significant playing time.

“She and Clari will take turns at the point guard,” Barton said. “(Jones) was a gymnast growing up and is a very strong, athletic girl.”

Barton said her first task is to develop fundamental skills in her players.

“I told them I’ve been shocked by what they don’t know and absolutely surprised with how quickly they’re catching on,” she said. “And they’re hungry to learn. That has been such a pleasure. They want some success.”

Success will be hard to come by early in the season. The Eagles open Friday against Little River, a team Barton predicts will be state champions in Class 1A. They follow against a tough Moundridge squad, then take on Sterling, Halstead and Peabody-Burns.

“It’s going to be difficult,” she said. “There’s just so much to go over and to do. I’m not exactly where I want to be yet, but I think by the time we go into Christmas break, things will be going good.”

Barton said she was in the stands when the Eagles beat Central Christian last season.

“I remember the excitement on their faces,” she said. “They were about to burst. I love that, and I want to see that again a bunch more times.

“I know it’s going to take time. We’re just working on baby steps now. We’ve got to do the little things right before we can move on.”

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