Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Sports

November 25, 2013

DiStefano must find ‘handlers’

GLASGOW — As the Metcalfe County Lady Hornets prepare to open the 2013-14 basketball season, coach Pete DiStefano has some questions to answer. After losing two valuable parts of their team like Tayler McMurtrey and Riley Eskridge to graduation, the Lady Hornets are looking for some leadership, an identity, if you will.

“We lost Tayler, who was a 1,000-point scorer and a four-year starter. And Riley started most of her career, too,” DiStefano said. “They did most of our ball-handling, so we don’t really have a proven ball-handler. They were our vocal leaders and they meant a lot to us and to our program.

“We are a team struggling to find our identity right now. You would think with Jordan Samuels back, Katie Huffman back, Mackenzie Coleman back and even Samantha Perry back, we would have an identity. Those are four kids that have basically started at some time, but you don’t have the one player in that group that takes care of the ball, tells you what to run. It is kind of like they cut our head off.”

And finding that leader soon will be important as the Lady Hornets prepare to battle a tough schedule. DiStefano said the Lady Hornets drive to another district title will be very difficult as Russell County, Clinton County and Cumberland County have all gotten better.

“Even though we’ve gotten some preseason recognition, we shouldn’t be a No. 4 in the district, but that’s very possible,” DiStefano said. “Cumberland County is much better. They’ve got all the kids back, but their depth is a problem. Russell County lost five starters, but they’ve got two guards back and guards win high school games. Clinton County has everyone back and I don’t know why they’re not ranked in the top 10. They keep getting better and better, and I would say they’re probably the best team in the district.

“For us to get back to the region tournament, we have to get better throughout the season. I don’t think we will be very good before Christmas, but I think you will see us play good basketball in February, when it counts. I think you will see a different team. Not only are the  kids figuring things out, I need to figure out what their roles are. When you lose two big players that meant a lot to the program, other players have to step up and you have to figure out who is going to step up and when they’re going to step up. It will take some time.”

DiStefano’s team is battling some injuries early, so the starting lineup he puts on the floor in the season opener may not be the same lineup he uses the following week.

“Kelly Moss, if we get her back healthy, could see a lot of time on the floor. She played quite a bit last year and handles the ball well. Samantha Perry is the other guard. She does a little bit of everything. She doesn’t like to shoot, but when she does, she puts the ball in the basket,” DiStefano said. “Jordan Samuels is playing point right now, but she is probably at the 3. If you get her in the open floor she can score. If you post her on the block, she can jump over everybody. She is a tremendous athlete.

“Katie Huffman probably has more potential in the post than anybody. She just needs to be more consistent. Mackenzie Coleman is our fifth starter. She has to expand her game a little bit this year. She’s struggling a little bit, but she’s got all the tools to be a good basketball player.”

Allison Caffee and Kelsey O’Leary should also see a lot of time on the floor, DiStefano said.

“Allison is very tough under the basket. She gave us good minutes last year and her role is going to expand this year,” said DiStefano. “She’s going to have to put the ball in the basket, she’s going to have to defend and she’s going to have to play. Kelsey is a senior and she’s going to have to play this year, too. She just needs some confidence in her abilities.”

DiStefano said he would like to play 10 players each game and run the court, but he’s not sure he can do that this year. However, defense is key with DiStefano-coached teams, so he believes he will be able to turn the ball over enough in the halfcourt.

“We’ve not shied away from playing from anyone. We will play Greenwood, South Warren, Glasgow and Monroe County.  Adair County is good and we play them. This is a tough schedule and we will be challenged to find some wins,” said DiStefano. “You usually can go down your schedule and pick out what games should be wins, but you can’t do that this year. We believe a tough schedule gets you ready for the tournament. It would be easy to schedule 20 wins, but we get 16 or 17 wins each year and then we’ve got a shot when the tournament comes around.

“Over the last five or six years, we’re consistently in the region tournament. But you can’t win the region if you’re not in it. And then when you’re in it, anything can happen. Our goal is to win the district and get to the region. And sometimes when they don’t expect you to win it, that’s the year you come up and win it.

“I really like this ball club. They have a lot of growth potential.”

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