November 28, 2002

Lady Tigers Have Sites Set On District Title

Two years removed from the district title game, the Scotland County Lady Tigers basketball team may have its sights set on a second chance at a state playoff birth.

SCR-I returns three starters from last years 13-12 team, that was by all accounts a rebuilding season. The work may payoff during the 2002-2003 season as the Lady Tigers bring back eight players with quality varsity experience. Combine that with the fact that SCR-I will compete in a remodeled Class 2 District minus arch rivals Putnam County and Clark County and its easy to see why aspirations are high.

"If we can rebound and play solid defense each night we could be competitive with the top teams in our conference and district," said Coach Andrea Dabney.

Despite returning just one starter last year the team finished above .500 and managed a third place finish in the Tri-Rivers Conference.

That one starter will be back for her final go around. Senior Meagan Fromm was the Tri-Rivers Conference MVP for the second straight year. She will be looking to make it an unprecedented third straight season as the league's best player.

The six-footer led SCR-I with a 19.5 scoring average and also posted a team high 11.1 rebounds. Those numbers were good enough to earn her second team All State honors as a junior.

Last year the team struggled early on trying to develop a consistent second and third scoring option to team with Fromm.

Fellow senior Amy Blomme stepped into one of those roles last year and will once again be looked upon to shoulder some of the scoring load. As a junior the 5'6" guard averaged 7.0 points a game while also grabbing 3.5 rebounds.

Jessie Cotton, the team's third returning starter, had a solid sophomore season and will return as the team's point guard. The junior will look to improve on her 5.8 points per game scoring average.

All three players likely will get the chance to see their scoring outputs increase as Coach Dabney has installed a totally new scheme.

Dabney, 66-86 in seven years at the helm of the SCR-I program, said she will loosen the reigns up a bit this year and allow the girls a little more flexibility in a more up-tempo offense.

"It will take a little getting used to, but we are definitely going to be putting up a lot more shots," Dabney said. "With the up tempo approach comes turnovers, but we think we can take advantage of good team speed and hide some of our interior match-up problems by getting up and down the court."

The key to the new style will be one of the deepest benches Dabney has had in her tenure at Scotland County.

Valerie Crawford, Katie Kittle and Rebecca Consbrock give the team an experienced trio of perimeter players. Kittle gives the team a good three-point shooter while Consbrock offers a solid all-around game as both a scorer and ball handler. Crawford will likely fill a key role, seeing time as a swing-player, playing both guard as well as a little forward to take advantage of her size.

The team will need her to fill some minutes on the interior as Dabney says she likely will carry just two true post players on the varsity roster to start the season.

Senior Jennifer Crawford came on strong late in the year to split time with starting center Sara Norton, the team's lone loss to graduation. Brandi Mallett also gained varsity experience last year at the four and five positions and early in practice has the inside edge as the team's starting center.

The team can also look to senior Amber Brush to give the team a third option on the interior.

The lone newcomer to the varsity squad likely will be the fifth starter. Dabney said she is leaning toward starting freshman Ali Fromm at shooting guard for the Lady Tigers.

Whatever the starting line up, the quality depth for SCR-I will definitely give the opposition some trouble particularly come district playoff time.

"Playing against the tough Class 3 teams in our conference should have us ready going into our new Class 2 District this year," said Coach Dabney.

Scotland County will host the Class District 5 playoffs in March. The Lady Tigers will take on familiar foes in Knox County, Milan and Schuyler County while also adding Canton and Princeton to the six-team field.

Conference title hopes are not out of the reach for SCR-I in 2003 either. However the Lady Tigers will have to get past perennial powerhouse Clark County, which returns two first team all-conference performers in Julie Gares and Meagan Martin. The team has some big shoes to fill with the loss of Jackie Burkhart, Emily Huckey and Kayla Hawkins however.

Knox County also took big losses with graduation loosing first team performer Jennifer Collier. The Eagles will look to Terri King to lead the team for a title challenge.

Schuyler County and Brookfield both return talented all-league players. Lesley Paalhar was a first team all-conference performer as a junior. She will be joined by fellow all-league picks Whitney Henderson and Andrea Severa as one of the more talented returning teams in the conference.

Katy Roberts and Erika Drummond provided the Rams with a talented backcourt tandem that will look to give the Lady Tigers fits both in conference and district play.

Putnam County also returns a talented tandem as Katie Fowler and Courtnee Ream will only be juniors in 2003 meaning the Midgets may be standing tall for at least two more years.

Milan and North Shelby will continue to try to move into the leagues upper echelon. Rebecca Van Soest will lead the Wildcats while North Shelby will have to find some new stars as the lone league team without a returning all-conference player.

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