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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Tigers rebound with new coach, guard tandem

  • Open at home tonight against Durant
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  • It hasn't taken long for Ardmore to eclipse its win total from last season.
    After struggling through a one-win season in 2011-12, the Tigers girls basketball team has more than acquitted itself by starting 3-3.
    Ardmore was 2-1 heading into the Millwood Invitational last weekend, and came out of it on even ground, beating Roosevelt (Texas) 54-41 in its final game on Saturday.
    In his first season after coming from Blanchard, Ardmore coach Kevin Kelly says his team still has strides to make entering its home debut tonight against Durant.
    The girls will tip off at 6:30 p.m. followed by the boys game at 8.
    "Hopefully, we come out with some energy," Kelly said. "We haven't had a chance to play at home yet, so we're definitely going to see some nerves.
    "We need to get off to a quick start, get some positive things going our way and see if we can get that momentum going our way."
    The pace of the game will likely be dictated by the Tigers' new backcourt combination of senior Patrice Bennett and sophomore Mychshyea Taylor. Bennett had to sit out last season after transferring from Plano, Texas, and Taylor came on late for the Tigers as a freshman after regaining eligibility during the season.
    "Patrice and Tee (Taylor) are kinda the same thing," Kelly said. "They can score the ball. They can dribble penetrate, shoot the 3, finish at the rim. They're able to knock down free throws, they're real aggressive.
    "A product of their scoring right now is our other girls are getting steals and rebounds and really finding them in transition, and these girls are really able to finish for us."
    Taylor is the Tigers' leading returning scorer and has started off strong this season. The 5-foot-5 guard scored 34 points against Duncan in a 71-50 win on Dec. 4, and 22 against Roosevelt (Texas) to close out the Millwood Invitational.
    Bennett, an Ardmore native, returned to her hometown last season but was reserved to JV games per transfer rules. The 5-1 guard has been a welcome compliment to Taylor in the Tigers' fast start.
    Bennett and Taylor combined for 55 points against Duncan last week, with Bennett contributing 21.
    "Us on the floor together? That's problems right there," said a smiling Bennett. "We're unstoppable."
    As a varsity spectator last season, Bennett said all she could do was encourage her teammates not to give up. She's excited to be a part of what could be a resurgent season for the Tigers, and has already seen an improvement in the team's attitude from last season.
    "I'm here to boost their confidence a little more than last year," Bennett said. "Attitude-wise and not giving up, I see that's improved a lot."
    Page 2 of 2 - Even with the addition of Bennett, a full season of Taylor on the court and a contributing freshman class, Ardmore still entered this season without its only regular starter from last season.
    The Tigers lost a key player in 6-0 sophomore post Faithlyn Piggee even before the season began. Piggee broke her femur in a car accident in September and will miss the entire 2012-13 campaign undergoing rehab.
    Piggee, who was Ardmore's leading rebounder last year as a freshman, said with the changes from last year to now, the Tigers have a chance to go far.
    "They're doing very good," Piggee said. "They're working more together and not giving up so easy."
    Erik K. Horne
    221-6522
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