High School Sports

ANDOVER GIRLS: Hoping depth offsets graduation losses

When Max Hamblin took over as the Andover girls coach, he was well aware that six seasons had passed since the Trojans had a winning record.

"That's why I wanted it," said Hamblin, who came to Andover after coaching the Hugoton boys for 21 years. "It's a coaching challenge. It's nice to see the turnaround.

"There's parents involved, making their kids better. We do stuff in the summer. It's not just one person. It's an overall school community effort."

The results of that work finally became obvious last season, Hamblin's fourth, when Andover finished 19-4. While it ended in disappointment — the Trojans lost to Rose Hill in a Class 4A sub-state final — it was a turning point.

Hamblin believes the program will continue to be strong, even though Andover lost several talented players from last season.

"We've probably got the target on our back this year," he said."... We have good girls way down deep, actually, so we should be fairly good for several years."

Three starters return — senior Kylie Cooper, a 6-foot-1 forward (14 points, nine rebounds), junior guard Taylor Tilson (10 points, four rebounds) and senior guard Catherine Cranmer (eight points, three rebounds).

" (Cooper) draws double teams, and it opens up everybody else," Hamblin said. "I expect her to have a big year. She may see a lot of double teams, which may limit her touches, but it's good for our team. They have to give us something."

Amy Williams, a 6-foot junior, will join Cooper inside, but Andover has a bunch of guards. In addition to Tilson and Cranmer, there's Ashlynn Bezdek, Audrey Meisch, Abby Hamblin and Alexa Fritz.

And most of those players can get in the lane and produce offensively and defensively.

"The pressure is not all on Kylie," Hamblin said. "We have eight, nine kids that are pretty good players."