November 24, 2011

Lady Tigers Have Big Shoes to Fill in Quest to Defend District Title

After securing just the third district title in the program's history, The Scotland County Lady Tigers are going to have some big shoes to fill as they try to defend the crown in 2011-12.

Coach Jaryt Hunziker had the luxury of returning his entire roster last season, but some key injuries during the title run will make his job a little easier this year.

Despite having to replace four starters, Hunziker will still return some experienced players, led by seniors Cali Holt and Courtney Jackson. Holt will return to action after missing the second half of the year with a knee injury. When teammate Anna Duley went down the following game with the very same injury, Courtney Jackson was thrust into a starting role for the Lady Tigers. Megan Creek also picked up valuable playing time when her cousin Aimee Dale missed games due to injury.

The trio of Holt, Jackson and Creek will be the key to SCR-I's efforts to secure another shot at the state playoffs.

Hunziker will have to replace Tri-Rivers Conference MVP Ashley Tague who took her 12.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game onto the collegiate level. He will also have to find a scoring threat from the perimeter to replace Skyler Alderton, the team's leading three point threat who scored an average of 9.3 points a game.

Jackson showed she can share some of the scoring load. She poured in a career high 19 points versus North Shelby within weeks of moving into the starting role. Creek averaged nearly a double-double when her playing time increased down the stretch. Holt, who handled the point guard duties prior to her injury, will have to step up her scoring production to help offset the loss of the other four starters.

The team also graduated starters in Duley and Jamie Shaw, as well as Dale, who was the team's sixth player until moving into a starting role after Holt's injury.

Sophomore Hailey Dial played her way into the rotation midway through her freshman season. She could slide into Tague's role, with the size to play the post position but the shooting touch to replace some of Alderton's perimeter points.

Junior Jessica Morrow will join Creek as a starting forward.

"We won't really feature true post players, instead likely showing a more spread offense that will feature plenty of cutting and backdoor plays," said Hunziker.

Senior Kiley Frazier also figures into the equation, likely filling Dale's valuable role as the sixth girl, after returning to the program for her final season.

After a successful junior varsity season last year, Hunziker can also call upon juniors Katie Howard and Abbey Duley as well as sophomore Bethany Rader. Freshman Randi Slaughter also has played her way into some varsity time.

"These girls worked really hard this summer," Hunziker said. "We stressed that this is not a rebuilding season. Instead we are just reloading."

The girls seemed to prove that point with a successful summer.

"We were competitive in nearly all of our games," Hunziker said. "We just need to identify the go to players who can step up and knock down the shots at the end of games."

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