By Pedro Velazco
Taylor’s girls basketball team is going to look a lot like teams from last decade when the Titans won 20 games or more five times in a seven-season span from 2003-04 to 2009-10. But it’ll take a lot of time and growing pains to get there.
Long-serving coach Dennis Bentzler said this Titan squad has the athleticism to press and run. However a young team with several freshmen won’t be able to impose its will instantly.
“For the first time in my 20 years, we don’t have a senior,” Bentzler said. “We’re going to be extremely young. We’re going to bring six, seven of those freshmen to the varsity level. It’s a good group and we’re going to mix them right in with the older kids and we’re going to go back to the 2002-03 group. We’re kind of excited about that.”
Bentzler explained that the 2002-03 team was also young but eventually sparked a successful run.
“This group, they know how to play, it’s just the fact that maturity-wise, physically, we’re going to be outmanned a little bit, but we’re going to continue to press and run and go back to what we do best,” Bentzler said.
He said that in recent seasons, with different strengths on his team, he’d had to go to a style that was more about a controlled, halfcourt tempo. This team will play more to his preferred style.
“We’re going to go back to pressing and playing what we used to say: 84 feet for 32 minutes,” Bentzler said. “We’ve got Siera Daniel and Lauran Reece who will kind of anchor us and, like I said, those young kids can play.”
Reese, a physical 5-7 junior guard/forward leads the returning players in scoring after averaging 5.6 points per game last season, along with 2.6 rebounds. Daniel, an athletic 6-1 junior center who can defend inside and out, averaged 2.5 points and 4 rebounds a game last season.
Moving up from the JV are 5-7 sophomore guard/forward Kaitlynn Good and 5-7 junior forward/center Haley Campbell, both of whom saw a little varsity time last season, and 5-3 junior guard Nia Taper.
The freshman class includes 5-6 guard/forward Brie Boehler, 5-5 guard Cami Hansen, 5-2 guard Hannah Mullinax, 5-6 guard Savannah Delgado, 5-0 point guard Rayven Johnson, 5-9 guard/forward/center Lydia Owens and 5-8 forward/center Shannon Neal.
Former mainstay Raven Black is enrolled at Western this school year.
A starting five hasn’t been established though Reese and Daniel are sure to start, and Boehler and Hansen are strong candidates. Boehler is expected to make an immediate impact with her physical play while Hansen has the defense, ballhandling and shooting attributes Bentzler looks for from a guard.
“Everybody’s going to get a shot every game,” Bentzler said. “We’ll play a lot of people.
“We’ll see how Siera and Lauran mingle in with the freshmen. We’ll find out where the points are coming from. We’ll see how the younger kids play together.”
Bentzler said the young team has a lot of talent and a bright future.
“I think we’ve got a chance to be a very competitive team by the end of the year, and then [in later seasons] look out. Everybody’s pretty excited around here,” he said.