BY PCC STAFF
CENTERVILLE – Fort Madison tied its regular season win total from last year on opening night Friday.
First year Head Coach Tony Sargent took the Lady Hounds to Centerville to open the regular season and knocked off Class 3A’s 15th-ranked Redettes, 48-36.
Centerville finished the season last year 11-9 and just cracked the preseason 3A rankings. West Burlington is rated 13th in that class and hosts Fort Madison Monday night in a unofficial Hall of Pride scrimmage at West Burlington.
The Hounds relied on freshman Camille Kruse who finished with a team high 14 points, but six others scored on the night with senior Anna Kester scoring eight points and Brandy Walker finishing with seven.
“Camille is great. She’s a really good freshman and is very skilled,” Sargent said in a preview interview Thursday afternoon.”
Sarah Bernhart and Kylee Cashman each had six, Dalyn Wondra had five, all in the first half, and freshman Molly Knipe added a bucket.
But Sargent said Thursday during the preview that he’s been remarkably surprised from what his expectations were coming into his first year in Fort Madison. Sargent was removed as head coach at Central Lee after a six-year run as the Lady Hawk’s head coach.
“They’re getting more confidence as the time goes,” Sargent said.
“They believe in themselves now and one of the biggest things they are telling me is they are having fun again.”
Sargent said he’ll be looking to Kruse, along with Kester, Walker and Wondra as leaders on the team. He said junior Kylee Cashman, who scored nine points in a half jamboree earlier this week in Mt. Pleasant, also has been a surprise in the early going.
“Brandy has improved 100% from last year. You won’t even recognize her when she plays. And Sarah is doing a good job. Kylee, she scored nine the other night and I think she scored, maybe nine, all year last year,” he said.
Sargent, who confesses to not being a great coach, said he likes to give girls ownership of the game and practices, and then try to have fun.
“My step is more for them to figure it out. I’m not a great coach to begin with it. I don’t do a lot of plays and stuff and the girls kind of figure it out on their own.”
Sargent said he will run mostly 5-outs because a lot of the girls are still getting a sense for shooting on a team that preached defensive basketball last year under head Coach Todd McGhghy.
“We do mostly four or five out against the man and we’ll run a 1-3-1 or overload against a zone, or even a 5-out against the zone. Right now I don’t want to confuse them,” he said Thursday.
He said senior Anna Kester will have a better year from the one spot this year because she’ll have help bringing the ball up the floor, something Sargent said was lacking last year.
He said shooting is also going to be a priority in drills during the season which should help the field goal and free throw percentages. He said he’d like to team to be about 40% from the field and 70% from the free throw line.
He said Fairfield should be decent in conference play this year, but outside of them he thinks its a wide open race. And if the Hounds can get back to .500 ball then the program can grow that way.
“These girls, if you talk to them, they’re ready to go,” he said.
“Who knows, these kids are having fun. We need to get to that 12 to 14 win season and then I think you’re gonna see people say, ‘Wow, we can do this,’ and then you might see others come out and want to be a part of it.”
He said the season won’t be without hurdles, but he hopes to bring the girls confidence around and then drive the program through success.
“We’re gonna hit the bumps in the road and we’re gonna lose some, but you’re gonna see a lot of different I think. It’s in the kids. My whole thing in coaching is to give the kids confidence in themselves. It rolls over into what they do when they get out of high school.”