The Houston girls’ basketball team is adopting a new style of play. Gone is the deliberate, make several passes and work the ball inside offense. This year, coach Brent Kell says his team will be firing early and often.
“We’re going to take the first available good shot and chase it,” Kell said of his new offensive philosophy. “Sometimes the best shot you will see is the very first one. If they are open, I want them taking that shot.”
Kell has two reasons for his new approach. First, the Lady Tigers no longer have all-conference forward Erica Keeney, a three-year starter who controlled the interior. Second, Houston went 9-17 last season playing a slower pace.
“We’ve had three straight losing seasons,” Kell said, “and I’m tired of losing.”
The Lady Tigers’ new approach will rely on perimeter shooting. Leading the way is junior Amber Sillyman, who made 29 3-pointers last season. Sophomore Alissa Bowlin and Kylee Elmore, a freshman who will see major minutes, are also outside threats for Houston.
Haylee Kell returns as the starting point guard. She will be backed up by Elmore and junior Emilee Reese.
Sillyman, Elmore, Bowlin and Kenzie Scheets will share time on the wings. Kayla Herndon and Maddie Vandiver will provide depth off the bench.
Sillyman and Elmore both made multiple 3-pointers during Monday’s public scrimmage. Coach Kell said he expects as many as 35 to 40 percent of his team’s shots during the course of the game to be taken from downtown.
“I’ve given players the green light,” Kell said. “I’ve told them I won’t ever pull them out of the game for taking an open shot.”
The frontcourt, which lost Keeney as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, includes senior Elizabeth Hayes, junior Alexa Ichord and varsity newcomer Sierra Weaver. Sydney Cremer and Kaylea Preheim will also be in the frontcourt mix.
The Lady Tigers never completely recovered from a sluggish start to last season. They dropped nine of their first 11 games to begin the season and despite a 7-6 finish down the stretch, finished several games under .500.
Kell hopes a quicker tempo and more balanced approach will help his team be more successful. Houston opens the season at home Monday against Eminence.
“We don’t feel like we have a superstar,” Kell said, “but we feel like we have 11 or 12 players who can contribute.”
Nov. 28 Eminence
Dec. 5 at Strafford
Dec. 8 Stoutland
Dec. 10 Licking
Dec. 12 Newburg
Dec. 17 at Norwood
Dec. 19 Willow Springs
Jan. 5 at Dora
Jan. 9 Salem
Jan. 12 at Mountain Grove
Jan. 16 Mtn. Grove Tournament
Jan. 23 Mansfield Tournament
Jan. 30 at Thayer
Feb. 2 at MV-Liberty
Feb. 6 Hartville
Feb. 10 at Plato
Feb. 13 at Cabool
Feb. 16 Ava
Feb. 20 Laquey