Hutchinson High girls basketball coach Tom Clark will rely on a young team that will improve as the season progresses.
The Salthawks return starter 5-7 Shea Morford (4 ppg) from a 12-9 team that finished 6-6 in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division I. Dodge City eliminated Hutchinson 60-52 in post-season play.
Other letterwinners returning are 5-7 Jordan Clark (3 ppg); 5-7 Allison Reiser (2 ppg) and 5-9 Erika Long (3 ppg).
Hutchinson’s inside players lack experience, but provide height in 5-10 sophomore Abby Cavillo, 6-1 McKinna Kraus and 6-1 Cassie Zook.
Hutchinson High girls were picked sixth by league coaches in Division I of the AVCTL, something that is not a concern for Clark. Maize is the league favorite.
“We could compete in the league,” Clark said. “It will be a matter of success early. A lot of these young ladies have not played at the varsity level, so they need to believe in themselves.”
With a lack of experience, Clark believes his team will take time to develop its identity.
“Our league is tough so we will have to weather some storms and hold it together but I always believe we can accomplish good things,” he said. “This team could make some noise at the end of the season. We should be in the hunt. Don't count us out even if things start slow.”
Clark likes his team’s athleticism and ability, but will stress patience while they are learning how to work together at the offensive end. The Salthawks will likely have to grow into a faster-paced style as the season goes along.
“We will be a guard oriented team. Our players are starting to be more offensive-minded. We’re still working on moving without the ball, screening and using screens,” Clark said. “Offense is always a work in progress. We will try and use our speed to get up-and-down the court, but not turn it over.”
Clark always likes to switch defenses, but will rely on solid man-to-man as the Salthawks’ basic defense.
“We will play a lot of man-to-man,” he said. “We will play some zone because of some matchups, but we’ll play mainly man. We will try to get in the fullcourt and pressure as much as possible. Most of our offseason is conditioning and defensive work.”
Clark hopes to be a competitive rebounding team, but the team will focus on fundamentals first.
“We will have to pay attention to the little things, like boxing out and being aggressive,” he said.
Hutchinson opens the season Tuesday at Goddard Eisenhower and plays league favorite Maize at home Friday.