Girls basketball notebook

Tom Batters
Alissa Recker

Last year, the Dunlap girls basketball team featured five seniors in its starting lineup on its way to a 21-win season.

This year, all those seniors (and head coach Joe Wenskus, who retired to devote more time to cross country) are gone.

But new coach Pat Garst is optimistic.

Garst, an assistant coach under Wenskus last year, inherits a talented group of sophomores, juniors and seniors who are used to winning games.

The Dunlap sophomore and freshman teams went undefeated last year.

Many of the players on those teams will get a shot at the varsity level this year. Garst coached all of these players at the middle school level, so they are familiar with his style.

Will this young group win as many games as Jenni Erlandson and company did last year?

Probably not.

But, they may get pretty close.

“We’re not going to worry about wins and losses right now,” Garst said. “We’re just going to focus on playing hard and getting better every day. But, I do like the players we have. They don’t have varsity experience, but they have won a lot of games over the years.”

Garst said he will coach a faster style, which allows his players to run up the court and create more opportunities to score.

“We have the speed to play an up-tempo style,” he said. “We’ll play a lot of kids, too. We won’t just have five starters. A lot of players will get a chance to contribute.”

Junior guard Alissa Recker, a strong ball-handler and solid defender who hustles every second she is on the court, will share point guard duties with senior Danielle Langan, who is healthy after missing most of the past two seasons with injuries.

Garst said sophomore Lexi Hobbs will also get playing time at guard.

“She was very impressive last year at the sophomore level,” he said. “She can handle the ball and her shot has improved, too. We have some good shooters. Haley (Meeks) is a very good shooter, too.”

Peoria Notre Dame

Ron Carrothers, who led Peoria Notre Dame to 15 wins in his first year last season, said he likes what he sees from his team so far.

“Everybody is more familiar with what to do. They are reacting quicker to their reads,“ he said. “I’m very pleased. They are all working so hard.”

Carrothers said the emergence of junior guard Katie Schuler will allow him to move junior Kristin Itschner to other spots on the floor (Itschner was the ND’s point guard last year).

“Kristin is very versatile,” he said. “She’ll see a lot of time at the point, but I’d like to move her out on the wing, too, so she can get some opportunities to score.”

Carrothers said he expects a big year from senior forward Elle Bielfeldt.

“She’s so strong in the post, and she does a fantastic job winning battles in the paint,” he said. “She’s also one of our team leaders...I like all three of our seniors. Madi (Green) has great shooting range, and Abby (Ferlmann) is such a tough kid.”

Richwoods

Keep an eye on sophomore Maggie Cunningham and junior Elise Tamplin, who looked good in the Lady Knights’ season opener against Metamora Nov. 17.

Cunningham struggled in the first half, but ended up with 20 points. Tamplin handled the ball well and showed impressive speed when she repeatedly beat the defense to create open looks.

“We can do a lot of things with Elise. She’s a great athlete,” said Richwoods coach Todd Hursey, who earned his first win as a head coach. “Maggie dribbled into too many traps in the first half, but in the second half, she showed what she can do.”

Junior Mariah Smith also scored 20 points for Richwoods. Smith and senior Kate Murphy are the two returning starters for the defending state champions.

“Mariah and Katie just have to get used to playing with some of our younger players,“ Hursey said. “It may take a little time.”

Richwoods outscored Metamora 22-3 in the fourth quarter, and won the game, 62-45.

Murphy did not start the game since she missed a practice in order to attend her great grandfather’s funeral earlier in the week. She came in with 4:13 left in the first quarter and finished with 12 points.