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Banner County teams prepare winning season
December 19, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Courtesy Photo - The Banner County Lady Wildcats basketball team includes, front row from left, Maegan Coffman, Amanda Harrison, Dalle Rutledge, Mink Paripapor; back row, Teresa Monsees, Allysa Matthews, Ashlynne Hanan, Taylor Evans, Christina Grubbs, Shay White, Paige Cross and Savannah Jordan.

With only one player lost to graduation and eight returners, the Banner County Lady Wildcat basketball team is looking forward to a strong season.

The Wildcats got off to a slow start on the road with losses to Garden County (52,23) and Potter Dix (49,31), but came back strong with a 24-9 home win against Minatare.

Fourth year head coach Brittany Cooper said she’s seen a lot of improvement from last year. “We’re scoring more points, which is essential. And over the course of the games so far, we’re improved on our turnovers. We had a lot of them in our first two losses. We need to keep taking care of the basketball.”

Cooper said she’s seen improvement in players understanding the game and what they’re trying to accomplish. “We’re getting on the same page more often, better executing our offense and knowing what we want to do on defense.”

Cooper said they’ve had strong leadership from starting seniors Amanda Harrison and Dalle Rutledge. Both players have contributed a lot, leading by example in raising the intensity in practice and in games.

“Our goal this year is to build excellence,” Cooper said. “We know we have to start with the fundamentals and build from there. The girls are really showing a lot of heart for that and I’m impressed and encouraged with their focus.”

Before opening the season, the Lady Wildcats only had eight practices because of snow days and other school activities. Now they’re using every opportunity to work on their game.

This weekend, Banner County faces two of the stronger teams in their conference. Friday is a road game against Leyton. The Lady Wildcats are back home Saturday to host Creek Valley, who won the conference tournament last year.

As for the boys’ team, the Banner County Wildcats return six starters from last year’s squad and are looking forward to a tough season.

“We have four returning seniors, which we haven’t had for awhile,” said seventh year Coach Jim Wyatt. “We have some experience and also have a new freshman in Cole Blanke.”

Wyatt said the team has struggled with the speed of the game in the early going, which contributed to losses in their first three games, but they’ll get adjusted.

“Physically, we’re a pretty big, strong team with some good rebounders,” he said. “Every team we’ve played so far has been really good. “We need to learn how to run our offense and get more points on the board.”

Wyatt added the team has been playing some good defense and the players aren’t discouraged. “They’re still working hard and it’s still early, so we know we’ll win some games,” he said. “I think we can give all the other teams a run for their money.”

The Wildcats are at home this Friday afternoon against a tough Leyton Warrior squad.
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