The girls of Denair High got a taste of the playoffs last season for the first time in nearly a decade. Now, the Lady Coyotes are hungry for more and back on the court—well, almost.
Five of last year’s starters including offensive leader Chelsea Wooten are not back for the 2012 season; only one starter remains, senior Samantha Watts. But even though Denair’s squad lacks the experience from last season’s run, head coach Daniel Rodriguez’ quest for the post-season isn’t farfetched. With a solid defense to build around Denair has a shot.
“It’s a rebuilding year but we’re trying to make playoffs again,” Rodriguez said. “We’re pretty young but as long as we play as a team and the girls are doing their jobs, we’ll have a good chance.”
Watts served as a defensive specialist and an offensive compliment to Wooten last season but as Denair’s new leader and captain she will be asked to assume more on court responsibilities as the schedule progresses.
“It’s been hard finding a replacement so we’re pretty much a defensive team right now,” Rodriguez said of Wooten.
“She makes a huge difference,” Rodriguez added about Watts. “She’s my captain and pretty much the heart of the team.”
Watts is joined by senior Maddi Hensley and sophomore Ashley Ramaley who have added speed and size to the Coyote defense.
Denair has been through a rigorous pre-season schedule as they prepare for Southern Athletic League competition, recently having played 10 games in a 13 day span. The Coyote’s preparation continued at home on Tuesday when they hosted Mountain Springs High. Denair will also get the chance to scrimmage Pitman High before taking on SAL favorites Turlock Christian High on Jan. 3.
“It’s been hard because we had no practice time, but we got experience against good teams,” Rodriguez said.