WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW: Van Buren girls look to continue successWarriors possess talent and depth
Head Coach: Matt Zeitler, 4th year
Key Returnees: Kaitlyn Johnson (Jr.), Abby Rider (Sr.), Kadie Meek (Sr.), Shayla Filson (Jr.)
Outlook: Van Buren has the talent and the depth to make a run at a conference title. It all depends on whether the team can come together at the right time and if they’re gelling at the end of the season when they’re supposed to be.
The Van Buren girls’ basketball team possesses two qualities that could make it a contender in SEISC South this season.
The first quality is an intense work ethic. Fourth-year head coach Matt Zeitler had to tell the girls it was time to go home and kick them out of the gym on one occasion because the night had stretched too long and the school needed to be shut down. They didn’t have interest in stopping their game.
“They’re a great bunch,” Zeitler said. “They all want to work and they’re enthused about it. They ask so many questions it almost makes your head spin.”
The second quality is depth. Zeitler could play up to 12 girls per game and feel confident that each of them would perform just as well as the others.
Kaitlyn Johnson, fresh off being named First Team All-Conference last season, is back and will be the starting point guard. Johnson made 63 three-point buckets last season and put in 11.5 points per game.
“This is going to be how we glide,” Zeitler said. “When she can’t score, we will have to look for other ways to find points.”
Look for seniors Abbey Rider and Kadie Meek to start at guard as well. Rider got playing time last season, and Meek’s game has evolved over the kast year, making her another weapon at Zeitler’s disposal.
Van Buren has loads of guard talent, including Libby King, Sydney Atwood and Taylor Margula.
For a team mostly comprised of speedy guards, the Warriors have plenty of height and post players as well. The starting center will be junior Shayla Filson, who is over 6-foot tall and has been on the varsity squad since her freshman year. Senior Alicia Fitzsimmons is back after taking a year off, and her height, which was on full display during volleyball season, could potentially give other teams fits.
Freshman Grace Thomas is another 6-footer and will see plenty of playing time as she grows into a force down under the basket.
Athletic junior Sierra Edmondson, who is a transfer from Central Decatur High School, also will see action in Zeitler’s scheme. Expect Jenna Thornburg to run the floor as well.
The only knock against this team is that they will likely need time to come together. Many of these players have been on varsity for multiple years, but not all of them have seen significant playing time.
“By the end of the year we’ll be pretty tough,” Zeitler said.
Van Buren won the SEISC South two straight years before finishing third last season. Another run at a conference title is exactly what the Warriors are aiming for.
The Warriors will have an in-house scrimmage Nov. 29, and will begin the regular season Dec. 3 when they host New London.
SEISC South Division: 2012-13 Standings
Team, Conference Record, Overall Record
Burlington Notre Dame 16-1 22-4
Central Lee 15-1 20-4
Van Buren 12-4 17-6
Danville 9-9 11-11
Cardinal 7-9 8-14
Holy Trinity 8-9 8-14
New London 6-11 7-15
West Burlington 2-14 2-20
Harmony 0-17 1-22
Van Buren 2013-14 Schedule
12/3 vs. New London
12/6 vs. Harmony
12/10 @ Danville
12/13 @ West Burlington
12/19 @ Notre Dame
12/20 vs. Cardinal
12/21 vs. Scotland County
1/3 @ Holy Trinity
1/7 vs. Central Lee
1/14 @ New London
1/17 @ Harmony
1/18 @ Davis County
1/21 vs. Danville
1/24 vs. West Burlington
1/27 vs. Notre Dame
1/30 @ Belle Plaine
1/31 @ Cardinal
2/1 vs. Fort Madison
2/4 vs. Holy Trinity
2/7 vs. Central Lee
2/8 Districts (TBA)