Lansing girls seek new sources of offense for ‘06-‘07 season
A number of familiar faces return to the Lansing High girls basketball team's roster this year, but the Lions will look anything but familiar when they take the court on Dec. 1 for the season-opener against Bonner Springs.
Only three players are gone from last year's LHS squad that posted a 15-7 record, placed second in the Kaw Valley League and fell one game short of advancing to the Class 5A state tournament. Those three players accounted for a bulk of the Lions' scoring and rebounding, however they lost 71 percent of their scoring from last year with the graduation of Amanda Radovich (17.8 points per game), Rachel Darrow (11.7 points) and Nichole Twitchel (10.1 points). Radovich and Darrow also were their top rebounders.
Third-year LHS coach Keith Andrews said replacing those three will be tough, but he said the Lions still have high expectations.
"We want to be better than we were last year," he said. "That may or may not be record-wise, but we want to be better than we were last year. You still want those high goals.
"Scoring-wise, people will figure out who's going to score. I think that'll take care of itself. But the first couple games are going to be a feel-out process to see who wants to be that person to take the bulk of the shots and who wants to be that rebounder."
A likely candidate to carry some of the scoring load is junior guard Katie Nietzke. She's the top returning scorer from last year with a 7.8 point-per-game average. She also was Lansing's top three-point threat in 2005-2006. She said she understands her teammates will look to her to produce offense on a consistent basis this season.
"I can't be the person in the shadows anymore," she said.
Other players expected to bolster the offense are junior guard Amanda Darrow, junior forward Morgan Chiles, sophomore point guard Brittney Lang and junior forward Christine Cordes.
Cordes may have the most difficult task because she is being asked to replace Radovich, an All-State forward.
"She doesn't have to be all that Raddy was right away, but I think she can be," Andrews said of Cordes. "She wants to be, and she's ready to do it. It's just a matter of getting out and doing it in a game over and over again, being that strong and staying out of foul trouble."
Other players expected to boost Lansing's interior game are seniors Kara Ritchey, Elizabeth Cristiano, Nakia Becker and Chanel Johnson and sophomore Alexis Ellis.
"There's five posts right there that we can count on and look to," Andrews said.
Regardless of who plays the post, the Lions will be a smaller team than they were a year ago. That means there will be greater pressure on their defense to perform.
"We're really going to need to use our quickness this year because we really don't have that size," Nietzke said. "But if we get in shape quick and get quicker with our footwork, then I think we can really pressure some teams."
Andrews said that is the philosophy the Lions must embrace.
"If we can get out and guard people farther out and make them start their offense farther out and our first-shot defense can be good, then we can create offense out of it," Andrews said. "That will help a lot if we can do that. But if we come down and let them run a set play, we're gong to struggle more. We'll just have to front people, rebound and fight tooth-and-nail. We just have to go out and do it."