Lady Kahok Cagers will take patient approach to offense
November 7, 2012By Chris Kusnerick of Collinsville High School
If Collinsville girls basketball coach Lori Billy could have one wish for the 2012-13 season, it would be for the Kahoks to remain healthy.
That wasn't the case last year. Collinsville was 13-13, losing 59-41 to Southwestern Conference rival Belleville East in the semifinals of the Class 4A Belleville West Regional.
"I had a lot of high hopes at the beginning of the season and then we had some pretty major injuries," Billy said. "Kayla (Murphy) tore the ACL and the meniscus (in her knee) and three weeks later Shaye (Barrett) tore her ACL.
"We kind of piecemealed the rest of it together as far as the season went and did well. I thought we were competitive and in some games we had kids that stepped in and did what was necessary."
Graduation losses, in addition to Murphy and Barrett, were Danielle Niepert, Rachel Scrum, Tori Bell and Becky Hermes. There are three seniors on this year's squad - Karla Halde, Katie McCarthy and Brooke Meyer.
"Katie is coming off a good season in volleyball and she's disappointed that it ended early (with a loss to O'Fallon in the regional final), but she's got a lot of varsity experience," Billy said. "She's able to go out and run the floor if we need it, she's able to hit three when we need and she's able to go inside and knock down little jumpers.
"Karla, at 6-1, is our go-to girl inside, so we'll work on getting the ball to her. Kayla and Shaye last year averaged 26 points a game between them, so we've got to make that up. She and Katie are going to shoulder a lot of that responsibility. Karla worked a lot over the summer and her shot has gotten better.
"Brooke is a kid that loves basketball and wants to be a part of this team. Her contribution on and off the floor is going to be important to what we're doing."
Lexie Thompson saw limited varsity action last season while fellow junior Kadie Ringering also steps into the varsity lineup. Other girls competing for playing time include sophomores Aubreeney Brady and Samantha Buettner, freshman Kassidy Smith and junior Tere Beckley.
"I don't know if we'll be as quick as we were last year with Kayla, Shaye and Danielle," Billy said. "We had some ability to explode up and down the floor. We're looking to be a little more patient on offense and concentrate on taking care of business on defense."
The seniors are anxious to see what the Kahoks can accomplish this season.
"We had a lot of key seniors leave from last year and we're ready to step into the leadership role," said McCarthy, who scored 15 points 14 varsity games. "We're younger this year, so our experience will help quite a bit."
"Losing four starters that were seniors, the three of us are taking on a lot more responsibility, but we can handle it," said Halde, who averaged 6.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as the lone returning starter. We're all energetic, happy and close."
Collinsville starts the season Nov. 20 against Massac in the Nashville Thanksgiving Tournament. The Kahoks also face Triad and Nashville in pool play on Nov. 23 with the finals slated for Nov. 24.
"The goal every year is to improve your record and improve your abilities on the floor," Billy said. "There is never an easy night in our conference. Edwardsville has almost everybody back after going to state and getting second and Belleville East and Belleville West are solid, but every team is going to present a challenge."