ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
In 23 years of coaching, Greg Wyatt has led his Centre girls’ teams to 394 wins, so the coach has become a good judge of both character and talent.
If Wyatt’s intuition is at all close to accurate, his Cougars could generate a lot of excitement in northern Marion County this winter.
“I’m looking forward to this season and am excited about what could happen if everything fits into place,” Wyatt said. “The key to us having a great season is to play solid defense and have a couple of girls step up and be scoring threats.”
Wyatt’s optimism for this season began at the end of last season with, of all things, a loss.
“We lost our final game to Burrton, who had gone to state the year before-but we virtually outplayed them, except they made a lot of free throws,” Wyatt said.
“My girls finally realized we could be a pretty good ball club if we just get things together.
“That attitude has really carried over into this season,” he added. “We just need to do some of the little things, but they’re working really hard right now.”
Experience and depth will be two major assets for the Cougars this year.
“We have some very athletic players, which should help us this year,” Wyatt said. “I wish we were a little bit taller, but hopefully our quickness and aggressiveness will make up for lack of size.”
Wyatt returns four starters from last season’s 12-10 team, plus five other players who know the system and played extensively.
“We really have five starters returning because one of them had to step up when we had an injury last year,” Wyatt said. “So experience won’t be lacking on this team.”
Those five starters are seniors Krista Heiser (5-feet, 8-inches) and Jackie Klenda (5-6) and juniors Teaira Turner (5-4), Megan Gutsch (5-6) and Selena Seifert (5-3).
Gutsch, the leading scorer, averaged just under 10 points per contest.
The four other players returning with varsity experience are seniors Ashley Griffith (5-1) and Jenna Beneke (5-9) along with juniors Alyssa Luna (5-7) and Brittany Owens (5-6).
“We hope our depth and the fact we’ll be able to go nine deep will allow us to wear some of the other teams down,” Wyatt said. “At least that’s the plan.”
Wyatt hopes his depth, combined with talent, puts points on the board.
“Offensively, we have some girls who can shoot the ball from the outside, and we hope to be able to spread the court a little bit so we can use our penetration dribble,” Wyatt said.
“Hopefully, that will allow us to take advantage of our quickness to get the ball to the hole.”
Defensively, the Cougars promise to apply pressure.
“We’re going to try to make it as much of a full-court game as we can and try to get some easy buckets,” he said. “We’re not very big, so we have to utilize our speed to force turnovers.”
Wyatt said the objectives of his team remain constant.
“I expect us to give 100 percent every time we take the floor, respect everyone but fear no one, be positive and good things will happen,” Wyatt said.