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New coach changing culture of Coventry girls basketball team

12/5/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COVENTRY — According to first-year head coach LaMont Wilson, the Coventry High School girls basketball team has a whole new offensive philosophy this season.

“We’re running more of a college-set style offense,” he said. “We’re not running the continuation; we’re running sets. In running those sets, we’re trying to create more individual creativity. Most high school teams just try to run plays, and it’s easy to coach against plays. I believe players win games, not plays.”

Wilson said the team has been showing continuous improvement since day one.

“Everybody on the team is starting to understand that they have a role,” he said. “They’re buying into the system, and I think they enjoy playing in my system.”

Last year, Coventry finished with a 10-11 overall record, including only two wins in league play (both against Springfield High School). Wilson said the team lost five seniors from that team to graduation.

The two returning starters from last year’s squad, Wilson said, are juniors Chloe Baird and Emily Cerepak.

“We expect both to have great years,” the coach said. “For both of them, we are kind of changing their styles a little bit this year because I believe in the [three-point shot]. We’re giving them a little more flexibility as far as shooting the outside shot.”

Baird (5-foot-6) is making the move this year from the point guard to the off guard, and Cerepak (5-foot-7) is starting at small forward.

“Chloe has good range on her shot — she’s as good as any shooter in the league,” Wilson said. “Emily is also a good outside shooter.”

The team’s starting power forward, senior Brittany Zittle, didn’t play on the team last year.

“Brittany is very aggressive and extremely coachable,” the coach said. “She’s thinly-built, but so far this year she is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. She’s good for my system. Her role is rebounding and doing the dirty work. She’s accepted that role and she’s doing it really well.”

Taking over at the point this season is sophomore Karli Morisak.

“She is a pass-first point guard,” the coach said. “She does not worry about points. She looks first to get everybody involved. She’s also extremely coachable.”

And starting at center is 6-foot junior Courtney Basinger.

“I believe in sending the ball to the post a lot, and Courtney is adjusting to that,” Wilson said.

According to the coach, the team’s No. 1 goal this season is to “change the culture.”

“We need to get a winning mentality. We can do that first by winning some games and by letting the girls understand what their roles are,” Wilson said. “Once they begin to see success in their roles, it becomes easier for them to expand their roles.”

Wilson said other coaches will “learn to respect” the Coventry girls basketball team this year.

“We just played a team last Saturday called Laurel from Shaker Heights,” he said. “It was a dogfight last year, and we ended up losing. Well, on Saturday (Nov. 30), we beat Laurel by 20 points on our floor, 68-48, because they didn’t scout us. If you talk to officials or other coaches that have seen our team this year, they say, ‘Dorothy, this ain’t Kansas anymore.’ It’s a different team. I think towards the end of the year — maybe around tournament time — a lot of people may not want to play us. Follow us this year. You’re going to be surprised.”

Next up, Coventry will play at Norton High School tomorrow, Dec. 7, at 2:30 p.m.

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