Kirtland head coach Bob Bell has a good idea of the potential his Hornets bring to the 2017-2018 season, he just might have to wait a little longer than normal to see it in action.
Thanks to the girls’ soccer team reaching the state championship game earlier this month, Bell hasn’t had many practices with his full squad.
“We’re off to a little slow start because the soccer team had such great success,” Bell said. “Several of our starters, Jenna Sayle, Lauren Lutz and Katie McCollister, have only had three actual practices. We’ve had a couple of scrimmage games but we’re still trying to find our timing and so forth. Once it comes together I think we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”
With six returning starters—Julia Camino stepped in to replace McCollister, who was lost for the season with a knee injury–the Hornets won’t have much of a learning curve.
Leading scorer Sydney Snyder, who averaged 19.4 points per game last year, returns, which is bad news for opposing teams.
“She brings all of her experience and an incredibly good attitude,” Bell said. “Her work ethic is as good as it can get. She’s 100-percent business on the basketball court. She leads by example. I hope she brings that 20-plus point average to each game. That’s what we’re hoping for her and her rebounding too. She was also our leader in steals with over four per game. She’s a good player and captain.”
Joining Snyder in the starting rotation are Sayle (11.2 ppg), Lauren Snyder (6.5 ppg), McCollister (4.5 ppg) and Lutz, who led the squad with 7.5 rebounds per game and also averaged 4 points per contest.
“We actually have six returning starters,” Bell said. “Katie was in the starting lineup until she went down at the end of December and Julia Camino stepped in at the two-guard and we moved Lauren Snyder to the one. That was a big shift for two freshmen players but we continued to have success and went on to win 18 games.”
Camino will provide depth at the shooting guard position and Lauren Snyder can play the point when McCollister needs a break.
Kirtland’s bench has plenty of potential in its own right.
Riley McCrory, Amber Yurick, Haleigh Getchell, Leah LaVerde, Haley Coso, Morgan Carpenter and Brandi Martz all play aggressively on defense and can step in at any time.
“It’s nice to have Riley and all the other girls as backups,” Bell said. “Amber Yurick is a bull in a China shop; she gets it done. She’s a very aggressive kid. Leah LaVerde is out with an injury, but she’s a solid player, and Amber Yurick should impact theh varsity. She’s probably only about 5-foot-6 but she’s very athletic and a good defensive player. She blended well with the varsity girls over the summer. Haley Coso can help us too.”
At 6-foot, Carpenter brings a bit of size to the Hornets but she’s learning on the fly and Martz could make an impact in the paint.
“Brandi Martz is a post player,” Bell said. “She can definitely go in there and spell Lutz some and Jenna once in a while. She’ll get some JV time too, like a lot of the other kids, but she’s a strong kid that can help us defensively and rebounding.”
For the Hornets, success will be determined by how well they play on the defensive end of the court.
“We have to get our offense rolling from our defense,” Bell said. “We’re not going to be the type of team that comes down and sets up offenses against bigger teams. We need to use the whole court; that’s the team we are.”
Kirtland opens the season on Saturday at home against Riverside.