Breckel to start season with young squad
by Scott Brown, Sports Editor Email Scott
Dec 02, 2004 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Trigg County will field one of their youngest basketball teams in recent years when the 2004-05 Lady Wildcats take the floor this year.

How quickly they gel and adapt to their new coach will determine how successful they will be.

Amy Breckel moves up from assistant coach to the top job, succeeding Wynn Harris who left after four seasons.

Breckel becomes the first female to coach the Lady Wildcats since Brenda Thomasson helped begin the program thirty years ago. The head coaching job is her first at the high school level.

"The transition has been easy so far. The girls have been receptive, and there has been no questioning of authority," she said.

While Breckel sees herself as more of a disciplinarian that what the girls may be used to, she said their response has been positive in the preseason.

"I have talked to the girls about what expectations are and how hard you’re supposed to work in practice."

While she won’t be starting from scratch, she will be relying on some young players to learn her system right away and make contributions this year. As a result, she has five eighth graders on her roster – something she said is a one-year thing only.

"In order to turn this program around, we have to quit robbing from the middle school. I’m not used to it. I think they need to play their season at their level and be successful and learn that success so they can win at the upper level," Breckel said. "We did it this year out of necessity."

Breckel does have three starters returning from last year’s 7-18 team that lost in the first round of the Fifth District Tournament. Two of those players were ushered into the lineup due to injuries and defections during a tumultuous season.

Trigg’s lineup would have been bolstered by another starter, but Samantha Butts, who led the team in scoring at 14.8 points as an eighth grader, transferred to Calloway County in August, leaving the Lady Wildcats with a scoring void.

Felicia Crenshaw is the lone senior on the Lady Wildcat roster and will be looked to not only provide leadership but scoring as well.

"That’s a big change for her because her role in the past has been to get the ball inside or make an extra pass. Now, she has to change her style and score more," Breckel said.

Crenshaw averaged 7.3 points, 4.3 assists, and three steals a game last year. However, foul trouble limited her to just 24 minutes a game, a trend Breckel knows must not continue this year.

"We’ve talked about when to challenge layups and not commit those kind of fouls so we can keep our players on the court longer. You just have to know when to foul and when not to," she said.

Crenshaw will get backcourt help from junior Molly Walters, who scored five points and had two assists a game last year.

Walters, who hit seven 3-pointers last year, will be one of the few perimeter threats for the Lady Wildcats, who shot just 22-percent from behind the arc last year.

Junior Davida Braxton scored two points in 39 minutes of action last year, but will see her playing time increase significantly. Breckel calls her defensive effort among the best on the team.

Eighth grader Laykn Brooks saw action in eight games last year and, like Braxton, will see her floor time increase. Breckel said she would use Brooks as a backup to Crenshaw at the point guard slot.

The Lady Wildcats are deep at the guard position but don’t have a lot of experience.

Eighth grader Trinity Wortham has developed into one of the better shooters on the club, Breckel said.

Freshman Hailey Oliver and sophomore Kayla Joiner could also see time on the floor at the guard spot.

"W are guard heavy, but we’re young at the position. They just have a lack of experience. Some of the players haven’t grown into their ability yet," Breckel said.

Trigg County will have some decent size in their frontcourt but not much depth.

Sophomore Laquisha Boyd averaged 6.1 points and 7.5 rebounds as a freshman and was third on the team in steals.

Like Crenshaw, Breckel said the Lady Wildcats will need Boyd, who averaged just 18 minutes of floor time last year, to stay out of foul trouble.

"Laquisha has really improved her post moves and does a good job for someone her size," Breckel said of the 5-8 forward.

Boyd led Trigg County in rebounding in nine games last year and almost had an equal number of offensive rebounds (92) as defensive rebounds (96).

5-8 junior Brandy Blakeley will move into the center position after averaging two points and 3.2 rebounds in ten minutes a game last year.

"She’s fearless on defense and will play against anyone we put her up against. We just need our big people to block out and get the rebound. That’s been a problem in the past," Breckel said.

Breckel said eighth graders Dori Sheehan and Janada Acree will also see some time in the middle for the Lady Wildcats, as will freshman Brittany Rexing.

Breckel is also hoping that the games of 5-9 junior Latoshia Woods, 5-8 eighth grader Hanna Oliver, and 5-7 junior Brittney Ingram develop enough to use them off the bench at times this year.

With no double-digit scorers returning, the Lady Wildcats will have to find a way to manufacture offense. To do that, Breckel said they must improve their shooting from last year (34% from the field and 52% from the free throw line).

The Lady Wildcats must also cut down on turnovers (22.4 a game) that led to 17 points a game for the opposition last year.

Breckel expects teams to continue to play zone defenses against them until they prove they can hit shots from the outside.

"We may also see some zones designed to limit what Felicia can do on the offensive end," Breckel said, adding that Trigg will likely also see teams press them early with their lack of experience in the backcourt past their starters.

First year goals for the new coach are modest – a .500 season and staying positive throughout the season while showing improvement.

"I want to win as much as anyone, and I think we will, but we can’t concentrate on that," said Breckel, who has implemented a way of staying positive during practice.

"We have what we call a ‘positive circle,’ where the girls and coaches go over what we did well, not only on the floor but off it as well," she said. "If we can win the games we should win and they come as far as I think they should go, it will be a successful season."

Breckel also has a long term goal for the program that has been a problem in past years.

"We have to end the season with the same 19 girls that we start the season with. You need that for the program to begin to thrive."
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