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Lady Knights seek redemption season in 2018-19

November 16, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor (editor@dysartreporter.com) , Dysart Reporter

2018 Record: 5-17 (L to New Hampton in Regionals)

Head Coach: Robert Driscol

The Union girls basketball team went through a rough rebuilding year last season, but return a solid core under coach Driscol as they seek a far more competitive season in 2018-19.

Article Photos

From left to right: Front row-Ellie Rathe, Madelon Rathe, Emma Shirk, Allie Carty, Allie Driscol. Back row-Natalie Tecklenberg, Ellie Behrens, Megan Carty, Kaylin Brustkern, Carlie Hoppe, Sam Glenn.

"With the kids who played varsity last year, they are quickly picking up the offense and defense we left off with last year," Driscol said. "They are working hard, listening and are very coachable. We need to get into basketball shape and that's always a process. As far as Xs and Os and the effort they're putting in, it's pleasing to see."

The program bade farewell to a graduating Emily Schmidt and Kayla Lambe transferring, yet returned elements of their backcourt to make up for the loss of a decent post, with 11 players dressing varsity to begin the season.

"Emily was a good player for us last year and did a nice job on both ends of the court," Driscol said. "However, I feel we've got several players who got valuable experience on varsity last year to hopefully fill her shoes. We have post players that played a lot of JV last year who have made some nice progress so far. Kaylin Brustkern and Carlie Hoppe will see some more experience, plus Megan Carty and Sam Glenn have some varsity experience in the post. Hopefully, those four will provide some toughness inside."

Driscol looks to his starting guards in Allie Driscol, Allie Carty and Natalie Tecklenberg to run and execute their offense at a higher level after being plagued by turnovers all season long last season. The two Allies will rotate point guard duties throughout the season.

"Our three starting guards potentially can all shoot pretty well from the outside, while their ball-handling and passing has improved," Driscol said. "Each are capable of scoring on any given night and if two are hot on a night, we should be in good shape. Our Achilles Heel last season was our turnovers," Driscol said. "We defended pretty decent and scored at times, but we turned the ball over way too much, which created bad situations. Taking care of the ball is our number one priority."

Tecklenberg showed flashes of potential during her sophomore campaign, averaging 6.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg and was second on the team last year with 31 assists. With the ability to play on the perimeter (22 made threes in 2017-18) or score inside against smaller defenders, Tecklenberg will shoulder the scoring load for the Lady Knights this season.

"Natalie is a nice wing for us, handles the ball decently and passes," Driscol said. "Her shooting has really come along these past few years. She'll be a scoring threat and able to go inside/outside to create mismatches. We'll count on her on both ends of the court and playing lots of minutes for us."

Along with Carty (4.4 ppg, 35 assists last season), Allie Driscol (4.0 ppg, 22 made threes), Emma Shirk will be asked to play a contributing role off the bench this season. Carty, a multi-sport athlete, will seek a better year alongside her sister Megan as the lone seniors on a team mainly consisting of juniors with a few underclassmen sprinkled in.

"Last year was a learning experience for the team because a lot of us hadn't played many minutes on the varsity court," Carty said. "We struggled with turnovers, so if we keep those down this year we should really improve," Carty said. "I felt I was one of those players with a lot of turnovers. I have a problem of rushing. I've slowed myself down to make sure I have the right pace. Overall, if we all make clean plays and cut down on errors, we should be golden."

Though the Lady Knights lost 14 ppg and 6.8 ppg from their top two scorers combined last year, Tecklenberg points out most teams lose something each season and this only gives others a chance to prove themselves in 2018-19 whether its make free throws or being confident enough in their shot.

"We have some outside shooters, but I'll do my best to help my team in any way I can," Tecklenberg said. "Getting the line, getting those open shots, anything that can help get points up on the board. I want to make a name for us this season after our learning year last time. We can show what we can do more this season. Each game, we want to play without thinking about the stats and the game before."

In addition to rounding out their offense, the Knights will strive to continue their success on the defensive end, which will include pressure on the opponent's ball handlers to cough up the rock and allow Union opportunities for easy layups.

"Depending on who we have on the floor, we want to control the tempo of the game," Driscol said. "If there's a team we can push the ball and be faster, we will try for that pace. If we face a team that likes to go fast, we'll try to slow things down. The girls will really need to know how to execute on the offensive and defensive ends because there are teams we won't be able to steamroll. Traditionally, I like to press as much as we can, but there are teams we can't afford to do that. With this team, I feel we will have occasions we can press effectively."

While the Lady Knights continue to prepare for the season and ready for a physically demanding style of play, a sense of positivity surrounds the squad in practice even after a turnover or a missed shot in practice.

"We're good at encouraging ourselves and always having a positive attitude," Tecklenberg said. "We want to take our best out on the court every game and keep it intense. It helps we are in the same sports together and have played with one another too in this sport. Each of us knows our strengths and weaknesses, so we help each other to improve."

"Overall, our group is really positive, Natalie is a great shooter and Allie contributes a lot," Carty adds. "We have a decent amount of shooting and the posts will make us a well-rounded team."

The Lady Knights took what they had practiced thus far this past week out on the court against Central City, Vinton-Shellsburg and West Marshall as they hosted scrimmages recently.

"We were pleased with what we saw in those scrimmages," Driscol said. "Our legs are a bit wobbly and so is our shooting, but they executed on both ends at times well. The flow of the game went better than I had anticipated. Of course they made early season mistakes, but overall they played decent."

That preseason experience will prove invaluable as Union faces off against a variety of tough opponents in the NICL again this season.

"Dike-New Hartford was a State team last year and return a lot of people off that squad, so I'm guessing they'll be in the top three in the state as well as the conference favorites," Driscol said. "Sumner-Fredericksburg won 20 games last year and I believe return a lot of people. Aplington-Parkersburg also returns a lot of players. Those three will be very competitive this conference season."

Union understands they will be outmatched in terms of athleticism by these and other opponents this season, but cutting down on costly turnovers and continuing to have a positive outlook could prove the difference in tight games and close the wide gaps the Lady Knights experienced throughout a tough learning year for the program.

"I really enjoy my teammates and looking forward to all the memories we'll make on and off the court this year," Carty said. "There's going to be a lot of big games and I'm excited to see what we can do against Jesup, Columbus and Denver. We always have memorable games against them."

The Union Lady Knights will open their 2018-19 season on the road at BCLUW on Tuesday, Nov. 20 with varsity playing at 6:30 p.m.

 
 

 

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