Varsity Basketball

MAIZE GIRLS: Focus on defense, scoring comes later

Over the past three seasons, the Maize girls have been up and down. After five straight winning seasons, they won four games in 2006-07, 13 in 2007-08 and five last season.

First-year coach Jerrod Handy expects this season to be back on the upswing.

"We are excited," he said. "The girls that are coming back have gotten good experience from last year. We've got seniors coming back who were starters and good young kids that played quite a bit last year."

Seniors Kirsten Chamberlin, McKinzie Cox and Alicia Nicholson combined to average about 22 points last season, while junior returner Devon McCreath averaged more than seven points.

"They'll have to score more than last year," Handy said. "It looked like, on film, that they kind of shied away from making that happen. We'll push those girls to step it up."

Perimeter shooting is a question. No one shot better than 25 percent from three-point range.

But Maize is guard-heavy — all four returners are guards, and sophomores McKenzie Hartzog and Lisa Tomasu played last season, as well — so Handy will push the tempo and play man-to-man, full-court defense.

"They've got a good background in man-to-man defense; they have good fundamentals now," he said. "They all have real good (ballhandling) skills, and I hope our quickness will turn it into easy baskets."

Maize's inside game is a little thinner, with senior Sarah Witt and junior Erin Roeser, both 5-foot-10. Handy will focus mostly on rebounding and defense early.

" (Witt and Roeser) will have to show a dominance inside as much as they can," Handy said. "We'll have to get rebounding from them and defense.... I think the offense will come."

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The Eagles have versatile athletes, including Schultz, who is strong inside but can step outside, too. Grill hopes to run varying offenses and defenses, depending on the opponent. “We have decent team height, so we could have a lineup where we could zone up people and we could change our style because we also have speed. And we could have a smaller lineup and play pressure,” Grill said.

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