Plainview girls a solid combo of young talent, veteran leaders
How does one go about replacing a player like All-Ardmoreite center Abbie Wallace?
Well, if you're Plainview coach Andy Bloodworth, the answer may just be turning to your bench and plugging in a freshman.
Putting its product on display for the first time this weekend at the Southern Oklahoma Classic, the Indians emerged with a 3-1 record and a clear message. On the heels of a playoff run a year ago, the Indians girls basketball team showed this weekend that it isn't ready to fall off without Wallace, CJ Hornback and Kenzie Hunt in the fold.
Instead, Bloodworth simply has turned to the younger talents in his ranks, rolling out two freshmen starters and a sophomore to go along with senior stalwarts Taryn Callender and Jourdan Weatherford.
The team didn't always play perfectly, but there is no denying the youth movement on the Indians can play some basketball.
All it needs know, according to Bloodworth, is time and minutes on the court together.
"It's just like a stone at a top of a hill rolling," Bloodworth said. "We're just starting that roll now."
One of his freshman, post player Rebecca Wright, made her presence felt on Friday during Plainview's 45-41 win over Blanchard, leading the team with 17 points and playing a critical late role on defense in the Indians' comeback after.
Wright also saved her best plays for last, picking up 10 points in the final quarter of play and serving as the catalyst for a great late rally with Plainview trailing by six points in the final two minutes.
"They've played a lot of basketball, despite their age, and this is right up their alley," Bloodworth said. "They know their coach isn't going to quit on them."
She was often set up by fellow freshman starter and point guard Megan Shelton, who scored 12 points of her own, second only to Wright, and showed the ball skills and improvisational skills of a natural leader on the court.
When the team needed a clutch shot late, it turned to sophomore shooting guard Hayden Hunt, who knocked down a huge 3-point basket with 19 seconds left to give Plainview its first lead since halftime.
And when the Indians needed to ice the game late, Callender stepped to the charity stripe and knocked down two freebies to secure the win.
All without even mentioning the stellar contributions of sophomore and sixth man Hope Salzman, who came off the bench to provide seven points, six in the first half, and tenacious defense.
"This year, for this team, is about learning," Bloodworth said. "The question is how quickly, and how much, they can learn."
This team does not have the experience or accolades of the group that came before it. But in its coming out party, the 2012-13 Indians showed it is not a squad to be trifled with this season, or the ones to come in the near future.