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Bryant Lady HornetsPublished October 27, 2013 at 6:00 a.m.
Conference: 7A/6A South
Coach: Brad Matthews, third year
Assistant coach: Trina Williams
2012-13 record: 14-16
Returning starters: “We lost five seniors from last year,” coach Brad Matthews said. “Three seniors got some playing experience last year, including starting senior Dezarea Duckworth, 5-5. She was an all-conference guard last year, and the coach said she is being counted on to lead the team this year after averaging around 12 points per game and 5 rebounds. Senior Peyton Weaver, 5-7, also started some games last year at the No. 2 guard position. Matthews said Weaver is a consistent 3-point shooter who is working on improving her range. Erica Smith is a 5-11 senior who plays post and got game experience over the last two years. “She is a solid post player,” the coach said. “We need to get her more involved in scoring.”
Best inside players: Along with Smith, Aubree Allen, who had a knee injury in her junior year is a forward and will be working inside and out, coach Matthews said. “She can contribute at both ends of the floor.” Also working the perimeter will be sophomore Rachel Miller, 6-0, who the coach said is “an aggressive player who is improving every day.”
Best outside players: Playing along with Duckworth and Weaver, junior Jakeria Otea will join the Bryant team as a guard this year. Matthews called her a “talented athlete with a bright future.”
How will you match/exceed/fall short of the success from last season? “I look forward to this season,” the coach said. “This team has good leadership, and they are very coachable. We will see how some of the younger players step up to contribute.” He said that along with a group of core players, there are five to seven more with talent and ability who are coming on. “Juniors Maddie Baxter and Rachael Barber, along with sophomores Annie Patton, Carolyn Reeves and Britney Earles, are all together,” Matthews said. “We will see who and how quickly someone will contribute and help us move forward.”
Team strengths: The coach said the team is “tough and competitive” all the time. “They have grown into a team that values possession of the ball,” Matthews said. “We will need that in January.”
Team weaknesses: “We have some experience, but we also have a lot of questions,” the coach said. “They are still an unknown, what they will be on the court.”
Toughest opponent: “Anytime you coach at Bryant, Benton is the big rival and turns out to be tough. This season, they have as much talent as they have had in a long time.”
Games to watch: The Lady Hornets will be playing in several tournaments in the early stages of the season and will be exposed to plenty of tough competition before conference play begins, so there will be plenty of opportunity for the younger players to step up and contribute.
In a nutshell: The team will look to play an uptempo game with strength in their guard play, coach Matthews said. The defense will be ready for man coverage, as well as moving into zones when the need arises, while trying to stay aggressive on offense.