‘Patience’ is key to the upcoming Lady Pacer basketball season

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There’s a sign that hangs in the office of longtime Switzerland County Lady Pacer basketball coach Wayne Ellegood. It’s been there for some time, but the coach has paid particular attention to it this season as he readies his troops for the upcoming season.

The sign simply says: “Patience”.

If the Lady Pacers are to be successful, that’s the key as the head coach sees things heading into tomorrow (Friday) night’s opener at home with Madison and then host South Dearborn on Saturday.

“We’re young and inexperienced, there’s no question about that,” Coach Ellegood says. “But I’m upbeat about our team. I think we’re going to be a good team – I just don’t know when that’s going to happen.”

That big question mark comes as the Lady Pacers face a season where the squad returns only six points per game scoring from last year’s team. The loss of seven seniors from last year’s team has left the Lady Pacer coaching staff with many holes to fill, but there is still optimism for a good year.

“We’re starting over,” Wayne Ellegood said. “The whole thing in a nutshell is that it’s going to take time and it’s going to take patience. I am enjoying coaching these girls, and I think we’re going to be a good team. I’m excited about this team’s development and improvement. The coaches have seen improvement since the jamboree on Saturday.”

When looking to returning players who are expected to step up this year, the coach looks to junior Maggie Armstrong and sophomore Kristen Perry as key contributors.

“We expect Maggie and Kristen to step up and play well for us this year,” Wayne Ellegood said. “We expect them to have outstanding seasons, and we expect them to be All Conference. Now’s when they have to show what they can do.”

Maggie Armstrong found herself in the starting lineup at times last season, and her coach says that she has the ability to be one of the top players in the area if she continues to work hard.

“Maggie is an outstanding shooter,” the coach said. “We really expect her to step up this year and lead this team. She started some games for us last year and did a good job. She needs to accept the role as one of our team leaders and step up and be one of our dominant players.”

As for sophomore Kristen Perry, she saw extended playing time at the varsity level last year, particularly during the second half of the season; and again her coach has high hopes for his forward.

“Kristen probably has as much talent and athletic ability as anyone we’ve had in the past,” Coach Ellegood said. “It’s now a matter of her stepping up and learning what we want her to do and have the confidence to do them. We’re expecting outstanding things from Kristen this year.”

Other keys this season are two seniors who have been a part of the program their entire high school careers; and will be looked to for leadership this season.

“Jenna Daugherty has been with us all four years, and we are expecting good things out of Jenna,” Wayne Ellegood said. “She needs to step up and take a leadership role and have a good year for us. She’s been very solid for us throughout her career.”

“Katie Rayls is another player who’s been with us the whole time,” Coach Ellegood continued. “She’s a really smart player, and she can play a lot of different positions for us. She really understands what’s going on, and that’s going to help our younger players.”

Wayne Ellegood said that both seniors have been very accepting of the younger players in the program, and are already providing solid leadership during the first weeks of practice.

Three juniors will be looked to for big contributions this season.

Carrie Truax will see a lot of playing time inside, and the coaching staff also has high hopes for her this year.

“Carrie is about 5’11” and she’s a very intelligent player,” Wayne Ellegood said. “We expect her to play the post for us this year, and she needs to play hard all the time. I think good things will happen for Carrie this season.”

The other two juniors will play important roles for the team: handling the basketball and defense.

“Casey Sharp will be playing the point for us some, and that’s a very tough position to play, and she’s working hard,” her coach said. “She’s a big key for us, because she’s got to take care of the ball and make good decisions. We’ve been working quite a bit with her on her strength.”

“Hailee Smith is probably our fastest player,” Coach Ellegood said. “She’s got tremendous speed, and that’s really going to help us on defense. She’s a very solid player, and like the others, we’re expecting good things from her this season.”

The other sophomore on the varsity is Lindsay Scott.

“Lindsay is another player who we expect to develop as the year goes along,” Wayne Ellegood said. “She’s a hard worker and about 5’10”. She’s typical of where we are as a team. We’re working hard to get better, just like Lindsay.”

The other member of this year’s varsity team is freshman Bre Hinman, who is coming off of an outstanding cross country season.

“Bre played a little bit for us in the jamboree on Saturday night, and she did a good job,” Coach Ellegood said. “She’ll share some of the guard position for us, including some time at the point. She’ll help us as she develops. She surprised me because I didn’t think she’d be as good as she is this early in her high school career.”

With such a young team, the Lady Pacer coaching staff will have an advantage early, with their first three games coming at home and five of their first seven. That should give the young players time to get their feet on the ground at the varsity level before traveling to Southwestern on December 18th and then to the Lady Cub Classic at Franklin High School at the end of the year.

If ‘home cooking’ at the beginning of the season was an advantage; Coach Ellegood hopes that his team has learned its lesson by 2009. Opening at the Rivertown Classic at South Dearborn in early January; Switzerland County will play only one home game in the month of January; traveling to New Albany, Lawrenceburg, New Washington, Rising Sun, and South Ripley.

The lone home game comes on January 20th with Jac-Cen-Del.

February wraps up the regular season with home games against Southwestern and Madison Shawe, and this year’s Sectional will kick off at Milan High School on February 10th.

As for the conference schedule, Coach Ellegood thinks “things have evened up a lot this year”, and he thinks that the balance in the ORVC will result in some outstanding games during the season.

“I think there are several teams that will challenge for the conference championship,” Wayne Ellegood said.

So with the 2008-2009 opener upon them, Coach Ellegood and assistants Denny Bowling and Kim Self keep working to ready their troops for the campaign.

“The fun part of coaching is teaching kids who are eager to learn, and that’s what we have this year,” the Lady Pacer coach said. “These kids have made a lot of progress and if we can keep that going in the right direction, we’ll have a good year.”