Fairfield girls primed to get over the hump in 2013
■ Trojans eyeing winning record, big victories.
More than half a decade has passed since a winning season graced the Trojan girls’ basketball team, but Mick Flattery believes the program could be close to turning the corner in his second season sitting courtside.
“The hope is for a winning season. There hasn’t been one for a while,” said Flattery, who led the Trojans to an 8-14 mark in his debut season. “These kids really want to turn it around and have a winning season. That’s where I think they’re headed.”
To get there, the second-year coach looks for his Trojans to start the season on a strong note, stay competitive in big games and receive contributions from multiple girls in his up-tempo style. Flattery also expects the girls to compete that much better having been in his system for an entire year.
“They know the system a lot better,” said Flattery. “We have a lot more experience, and the girls who are the new ones have played in our system, so we hope that will be a benefit.”
The Trojans will look to spread the wealth and play as many as nine girls on most nights. The goal is to have as many girls fill the stat line as possible.
“I think we’ll be harder to guard because we have multiple girls who can score. Everybody has bought into ‘we and not me,’” said Flattery. “If you want to be in this program and play all 32 minutes, you just physically can’t to be good. They know when it’s there turn, and if they’re efficient with their minutes, they get more.”
While balance will be crucial to the Trojans’ success this season, every team needs a go-to option or someone who can catch fire and carry the team offensively when the rest struggle. Serena Ward was often that person last season, but this time around that role appears to be Sidney Baumann’s for the taking. Baumann, a four-year varsity player, isn’t the sharp-shooter that Ward was, but what Baumann lacks in pure shooting she makes up for in versatility and sheer athleticism.
“I think Sidney Baumann is ready to get to [Ward’s] level based on what she’s shown so far,” said Flattery. “She has taken her game where she’s able to shoot the 3, get to the free throw line, and being able to take it off the dribble drive.”
Two other senior starters, Brittany Kurtz and Miranda Metcalf, are back providing good height in the paint, and both have shown improvement in different ways. Kurtz has improved her endurance since last winter, while Metcalf has added to her repertoire of post moves over the offseason, said Flattery.
Along with Kurtz and Metcalf, junior Hanna Greiner returns to the starting lineup after leading the Trojans in blocks and ranking second in rebounds last season. The lanky forward gives Flattery another athletic option to fill one of several spots.
“We’re getting her not only in the post but facing the basket, where she can do some things slashing-wise. She’s shown that she can now step out with more confidence on the perimeter.”
Outside of the three seniors and Greiner, the Trojans don’t have a lot of experience at the varsity level, but several members of the junior class could make an immediate impact.
Marisa Repp got her feet wet late last season and continues to prove herself a capable shooter from all areas of the court. In the first two games this season, Repp has started both and already scored 19 points while hitting a pair of 3s.
“Marisa continues to further her range, to be able to shoot better because she’s so good at slashing to the basket and dribble drive, now she can add the long-range skill to her game,” Flattery said.
McKenna Ledger is yet another tall player in the paint for Fairfield, and Sydney Burnett, Seaira Drish and Erica Winslow round out the backcourt. Together with the starters, the current group of players has some of the best chemistry Flattery has seen as head coach.
“I think our chemistry is really good. The girls get along really well. Maybe they’re not the best of friends off the court, but when they’re on the court these girls enjoy playing basketball together,” he said. “They work hard and they work well together.”
In the Southeast Conference race, 10th-ranked Washington is the frontrunner after going through the gauntlet unscathed in 2011-12. Mount Pleasant has its familiar multiple-sport athletes in Taryne Shull and Kelsi Phipps, and Keokuk returns its leading scorer, Rachel Dunlap. All combined, it should make for one of the stronger conference races in the state.
“It ought to be a real competitive league again,” said Flattery, adding, “I see no reason why we can’t keep getting better and be right there fighting for the conference title. It would be disappointing if we’re not getting to that next level.”
The Trojans opened the season Oct. 20. Their next game is home tonight against Mount Pleasant.