ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
“Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still” is an old Chinese proverb. But for Canton-Galva girls’ basketball coach Barry Fritz, it could be a blueprint for his first two seasons with the Eagles.
“We have to be realistic,” Fritz said. “We won four games last year, they won none the year before that and just one the year before that.
“Our job is to be able to compete against the teams we have a chance to compete with and win.”
Fritz begins his second season at CGHS after guiding the Eagles to a 4-17 record overall and a 4-6 mark in the Heart of America League.
Signs of improvement were evident this season from Day 1, according to Fritz.
“On our very first day of practice this season, it was a lot easier than it was last season,” Fritz said. “Knowing the personnel is one thing for me. But for the girls, knowing the drills and how we like to do things took quite a while last year, and we’re ahead of the game with that already this season.”
Combining a mix of veterans and youth, Fritz hopes to build the Eagles’ win total this season.
“We lost a couple of game last year in the Sedgwick tournament that we should have won but we didn’t because the girls just haven’t been put in the situation to win games that much,” Fritz said. “They were used to getting beat by 30 or 40 points. But this season we’d like to get as close to .500 as we can.”
Experience should be a strength this season. Fritz welcomes four returning starters and three top reserves.
Senior Ashley Jones (5-feet, 4-inches) returns to her starting guard position after averaging 3.4 points and 1.1 rebounds last season.
A pair of junior starting guards also return in Alyssa Koehn (5-6) and Kelly Arendt (5-5). Koehn averaged 4.0 points and 3.2 rebounds while Arendt scored 3 points and grabbed 1.6 rebounds.
The fourth returning starter is Kylie Haines, a 5-8 sophomore forward who averaged 6.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Senior reserve forward Aubrey Koehn (5-8) is back after scoring 4.0 points and hauling in 3.2 rebounds, as is junior forward Aubrey Crouse (5-6) who averaged 2.1 points and 2.0 rebounds.
Kaycie Shearer is a 5-5 sophomore guard who scored 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Dani Bair is another returning senior. Fritz said she will contribute good leadership.
“We’re not very tall but I think our strength will be our quickness and speed,” Fritz said. “We haven’t had height in a long time.”
Fritz said if the Eagles hope to challenge for victories this season, it’ll be accomplished with strategic basketball.
“Last year I didn’t want to get out and push the ball because the problem with doing that when you play a Moundridge or Little River is, if you get out and run, they’ll blow you out,” Fritz said.
“You have to be able to score with them if you’re going to run with them so we try to protect the ball and make our possessions a little bit longer.
“We want to try to keep the game within striking distance when the fourth quarter rolls around,” he added. “Unless our shooting has improved, that’s probably what we’ll do-at least before the Christmas break.”
Optimism is growing at Canton-Galva but Fritz wants to be realistic.
“Everybody always says we’re going to win the conference or go to state, but that’s not us,” he said.
“We’re looking to get to .500 and maybe the following year we can shoot a little bit higher.”