High School Sports

NORTHWEST GIRLS: Hoping experience pays dividends

The Northwest girls came oh-so-close to the Class 6A tournament last March, but lost by one point to Garden City in a sub-state final.

No doubt, that loss still stings. But for Northwest, which returns all but one senior, there's plenty of high expectations.

"I'm sure we'll hold that (finish) out in front of us," first-year coach Jim Mernagh said. "We're right there.... They understand they are right there and where we're at and who we play.

"We want to go to state, no doubt. We want to battle for a City League title and go from there."

Leading scorer Brianna Caldwell, a junior, returns on the perimeter. A guard with the ability to hit the three and drive to the basket, she's a threat to have big games.

Inside, Northwest can bank on 6-foot junior Alaina Shine. The last half of 2008-09, Shine averaged double-figure scoring and rebounding.

Then there's guards T. Nolen, Alex and Mac Millspaugh — all juniors — and forward Kylee Simon, the lone senior returner.

"We've got most of the perimeter covered, that's for sure," Mernagh said. "Inside we have Alaina and Kylee Simon, who might be inside and outside."

Northwest has speed and athleticism, as well, so Mernagh plans to use that by pressuring opponents defensively.

"We'll get the ball to T. and let her go," he said. "Mac and Alex, they're good athletes, and they can guard. They don't seem that big, but they get their hands on a lot, as far as defensively."

Depth could be an issue.

"We have six, seven players that played a bunch, but that's it," he said.

Mernagh, who last coached the Bishop Carroll boys team, isn't new to girls sports. He has coached girls tennis and softball.

"It's going to be something different," h e said. "I'm excited... And I know I'm walking into a pretty good deal. There's a group of girls with a lot of experience."