by Harris Kinsey
copyright the Chronicle 12-5-2012
With six of last year’s players graduated, the Lake Region Union High School girls basketball team is younger this year, but the outlook for the season is still good, said Coach Mark Tinker.
“We have a lot more youth, but we still have some good players on the team,” he said. “The only real difference is that we’re younger.”
The team has four seniors, three juniors, and two sophomores. With some good talent on the junior varsity, the future also looks good.
“If we’re going to be successful, we need contributions from everybody,” Coach Tinker said. “Drew Neal, Ashley Locke, and Sarah Burnham are the three with the most varsity experience. As seniors, they need to prove leadership and contributions every game.”
The season hasn’t officially started yet, so it will take a while before each player discovers her role on the team. The question mark this season is how they will mesh. Coach Tinker suggested it’s his job to figure out successful groupings.
“Each of the players needs to learn their roles and how they can contribute to this team,” he said. “I need to juggle the lineups to see which players play the best together out on the floor and be successful.”
There are some similarities to last year’s team. “We’re not very big,” said Coach Tinker, “This is nothing new. Our tallest player is about five-foot, eight, so we need to play with attitude, but the players on this team are capable of playing bigger than they really are.”
The team also has girls who can play at different tempos. Some can run the floor and be a fast-break team, and some can slow the game down into a half-court set.
“It all depends on who is on the floor and how we play,” Coach Tinker said. “We have a little more quickness than we did last year with sophomore Tyra Urie, but we still have the ability to slow the game down if we need to. It all depends on who is on the floor.”
Asked if there are any real starts on the team, he said, “We don’t have one person on the team that can be counted on to go out there and score 20 points every game. It’s more important this year than in the past years that we play as a team. Winning will really need to be a team effort this year. We have a tough schedule, but if we play as a team I think we can be very competitive.”
Lake Region has switched to Division II this year, so the girls will have a tougher schedule than in recent seasons. The girls will play their first two games away — against relatively new Division II rival Oxbow on December 11, and at traditional rival Lyndon on December 14, before coming home to play against Oxbow in front of home fans on December 21.
“Our future teams look good,” Coach Tinker said. “We have some players on junior varsity that could get called up for the playoffs. The season is only a week old so I’m still going to evaluate our younger players to see who is ready for playing on the varsity.”
Coach Tinker has high expectations again this year for his team.
“We may have a tough schedule ahead, but I have a lot of confidence in my team,” he said. “We still have the ability to go out there and win games. As long as we play as a team, we will be successful.”