Only three players return for second-year Reedsville girls basketball coach Paul Ourada who is in the process of rebuilding the Panthers program.
Of those three are a four-year letter winner in senior Kayla Sheahan, fellow senior Nichole Mangin and a promising junior in Lauren Holschbach.
The roster will be heavily dominated bu sophomores and a few freshman but Ourada isn’t the least bit concerned because those players have both summer league or AAU experience.
“We’re going to throw them into the fire,” Ourada said. “Our team is going to be young but have tremendous athleticism.”
Ourada is looking to utilize that athleticism to make up for a lack of height, with most of the team hovering between 5-5 and 5-7. This will lead of an aggressive attacking defense which will look to force mistakes by the opposition while on offense turn those mistakes into easy baskets.
“We can’t afford to play slow,” Ourada said. “If we do we’ll just get out-rebounded all game. To win consistently, we have to play at a high tempo and make out shots when they present themselves.”
Last season Ourada got his first chance as the head coach after more than 20 years as an assistant, and he’s not afraid to admit some mistakes.
“No matter how many years you wait for an opportunity, it really is an eye-opening experience (being a head coach),” Ourada added. “You don’t know as much as you think you do plain and simple.”
Last season I played the upperclassman to reward their commitment to the program. This season our players know they better bust their butt or they’ll be replaced even if it’s by a freshman.”
Ourada looked ahead to future classes and decided it was in everyone’s best interest to play the player who gave his team the best chance to win no matter how young or old they might be.
The Panthers went through a rough transition last season, going 4-19 while both players and coaches found their rhythm. Ourada is confident everyone, himself included, learned from their mistakes of a season ago.
“I think the girls learned how much hard work it takes to succeed,” Ourada added. “You can’t slack off in practice and expect to play at a high-level. How a player focuses in practice correlates directly to how they play in a game and I think that’s beginning to sink in.”
One area Ourada will be a little more hands off in is in terms of team discipline, which he’ll be expecting Sheahan to take charge.
“I told Kayla (Sheahan) she has to step up in terms of being a leader,” Ourada stated. “If the girls won’t respond to her and it becomes a bigger issue I’ll step in but the team needs to police itself in most cases.”
At the end of the season Ourada hopes Reedsville will be in the top half of the Olympian Conference because he feels if you don’t have high expectations you’re not trying hard enough.