Tigers hit by un­ex­pected chal­lenges

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GROGAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

The up­com­ing sea­son has pre­sented a num­ber of un­ex­pected chal­lenges for Ris­ing Sun girls’ bas­ket­ball coach Kathy Stoudt.

She knew the Tigers would be with­out the three se­niors in last year’s start­ing lineup. She learned back in June that Abby Mack’s fam­ily would move and that her All-County for­ward would not re­turn for her se­nior year. Mack av­er­aged 11.8 points, 9.5 re­bounds and 7.2 blocks per game.

Stoudt called the loss “mon­u­men­tal,” but at least she was pre­pared for it.

Then came a knee in­jury that will side­line for­ward Liz Zata­lava for the sea­son. Stoudt had high ex­pec­ta­tions for the ju­nior.

She had been very im­pressed with the ath­leti­cism shown by Kira Wat­son in early prac­tices, but Stoudt learned last week that the sopho­more made an elite travel soc­cer team that will keep her from play­ing this sea­son.

“It’s just been one thing af­ter the other. We are a com­pletely new team,” she said. “We’re go­ing to be very in­ex­pe­ri­enced, but we’re just go­ing to try to get bet­ter and do the best we can.”

Se­niors Maddy Ford and Me­gan Brown ex­pect to play a vital role. Stoudt men­tioned sopho­more Bella Bar­bato, who scored in dou­ble fig­ures dur­ing a scrim­mage against Tome, as another key player. She ex­pects Lexy Gray, a twoyear JV player, to con­trib­ute in her first var­sity sea­son.

“The strength is that they’re a great group of kids. They lis­ten, they want to learn and they want to get bet­ter. That’s the foun­da­tion for us, but it al­most feels like it did when I started here five years ago, that’s how new it is for all of us,” Stoudt said. “We’re go­ing to take our hits for sure, but hope­fully we’ll sur­prise a team here or there. Hope­fully we’ll just keep get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter through­out the year.”

Fol­low Sean Grogan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Ris­ing Sun se­nior Me­gan Brown (44) leads an in­ex­pe­ri­enced Tigers team.

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