By Chris Parker
Marty Atnip enters his third season as the head coach of the Diamond girls basketball program looking keep the Lady Wildcats moving in the right direction.
A big piece of that success will come with better success in close games.
“Last year we lost five games by three points or less and most of them we led in the fourth quarter. We must finish games off this year and be tough in the clutch,” Atnip said.
Two starters return from last year’s six-win squad in junior point guard Grace Irwin and sophomore post Lexy Bridges. Irwin was the team’s third-leading scorer last season.
Three letter winners also return. Makayley Greninger is the team’s lone senior. She is a versatile player who can play on the wing or in the post. Sophomore Madison Bently is the team’s tallest player a 5-foot-10. She will be a force in the paint. Sophomore Allie Golian will be a key defender who will often draw the assignment of shutting down the opponent’s best player.
The freshman trio of Gabby Duley, Emilee Shallenberger and Ashlyn Daniel will all compete for varsity minutes right away.
“Our biggest strength will be our team defense and rebounding,” Atnip said. “Our team must improve our ball handling, and must get consistent scoring from the entire team for us to get over the hump and find ways to win those close games instead of falling short.”
All of the pieces are in place for the Lady Wildcats to climb above the 10-win plateau.
“We expect to be better than we were last year and feel that we are ready to get this program in the double digits in victories and give ourselves more opportunities to win and compete in every single ball game,” Atnip said. “Usually in the third year of a coaching tenure is when you see the biggest jump in success if the team has been young. This year should be no different since we are young but believe that the fruits of our labor are going to take shape.”
Diamond opens the season on Nov. 25 at home against Greenwood.