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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

SHS girls have high hopes

Sunday, November 13, 2005

(Photo)
Sikeston senior Allison Blurton looks to make a pass.
SIKESTON - The Sikeston Lady Bulldogs basketball team will enter the 2005

-06 season with youth and inexperience.

The makeup of the team will consist of two seniors and sophomores, three juniors and one freshman on the varsity squad. Sikeston returns only three players from last year's 11-14 team.

The Lady Bulldogs will be coached by Fred Johnson, making his return to coaching after an eight-year hiatus.

Johnson has been pleased with the effort his team has put forth in practices and is trying to get his players accustomed to his style of coaching.

(Photo)
Sikeston senior Paige Silverthorn talkes to new head coach Fred Johnson.
"Biggest challenge so far has been getting the team used to my terminology," said Johnson. "I am trying to get the girls used to my terms and to play at the pace I expect. I want a faster pace than they are used to, so it has been a process to let the team know what I expect from them."

Johnson coached the boys basketball team at Sikeston from 1991 to 1998. Johnson's teams made the quarterfinals twice in '91 and '94. In 1995, Sikeston made the Final Four for the first time in school history under Johnson.

While Johnson has recently coached boys, some consider his short stint at Scott County Central as his greatest coaching job. In three seasons as the girls basketball coach for the Bravettes, Johnson coached two championship teams in 1982 and 1984 and had a coaching record of 88-2 in three seasons. In '82, Scott Central went 31-0 and capped off the season with a 85-49 win over Salisbury to capture the Class 2A state championship. The '84 team went 29-1 and won the Class 2A state title over Lincoln, 38-31.

Johnson has been out of coaching for some time, but walk in the girls gym and one can hear that Johnson's intensity has not been lost. The Lady Bulldogs practice at a frantic pace with every step orchestrated by Johnson.

The Lady Bulldogs will push the basketball on offense and will pressure at every possible spot on defense. Johnson has stressed fundamentals and is constantly teaching basketball.

On defense, look for the Lady Bulldogs to full-court press, at times will trap all over the floor and will have constant movement when on defense. "We will run a mixture of defenses," said Johnson. "We will run some zones and we will press. We will do it all."

Sikeston's offense will be constant motion and finishing shots will be the main concern.

"Our offense will meet the personnel," said Johnson. "We will run some offenses that will put the kids in position to score. Our offense will be up-

tempo."

The three returning starters for Sikeston consist of senior Allison Blurton and two sophomores Amber Minner and Martika Davis.

Blurton is the returning scorer for the Lady Bulldogs as she averaged 12 points per game last season. Davis will provide some inside punch for Sikeston as she averaged eight rebounds per game.

Joining the returners from last season, senior Paige Silverthorn hopes to provide some leadership from her point guard position. Junior Jessica McCray will play a wing position along with fellow junior Latoya Gipson.

Junior Shaketa Ranson will help Davis down on the blocks and Johnson looks for Ranson to be a force down low. Freshmen Keyrra Blissett will gain valuable experience as she will play varsity and look to score from the wing position.

The Lady Bulldogs will dress only eight players and fatigue could play a role in certain games. Johnson will not use lack of depth as an excuse for his team.

During practices, the Lady Bulldogs go through difficult conditioning drills that will increase the team's stamina. Johnson put his team through several "kill drills" and full-court sprints.

Johnson is excited about the upcoming season but does admit that coaching is a difficult job no matter the gender.

"I am tired every day," said Johnson. "It is tough, it is as tough on me as it is the girls. The team is getting into a new system and that is going to take some time for everyone to be on the same page. Anybody that changes to a new system has to learn who is in charge. Right now they found out who is in charge if they want to play. The ones that have made the team have stuck it out and everyone will get a chance to play. The team is doing well and hopefully that will continue on down the road."

Coach Tiffany King will assist Johnson with the varsity girls and will be the head coach for the Lady Bulldogs junior varsity.

Sikeston will have to overcome their lack of size against some teams as the tallest girl is 5-foot-9 with four others at 5-foot-7.

The Lady Bulldogs will have changing attitudes this season and look for the girls to work as a team. No individuals, just one heart; one team.