Girls basketball: Winfield coach to play up-tempo, lean on seniors
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Winfield returns solid senior pieces to this year's girls basketball team and with many other able-bodied and athletic parts, the Generals plan for success with depth.
Seniors Haeley Moore and Mara Rhoades lead the returning crew, along with seniors Shelby Yancey and Megan Guetzloff, from a team that finished its 2011-12 season with a 59-53 loss to Huntington in the Class AAA Region 4 co-final.
Winfield graduated Carley Cooper, Bethany Jordan and Andrea Hart and, with the departures, lost some size, though the Generals return a talented bunch full of speedsters.
"We're not real big," Coach Tim Toler said. "We're going to try to play maybe a little more up-tempo. We're going to have some quickness and that's how we're going to try to off-set our lack of height."
Rhoades will run the point for Winfield, though Toler said Rhoades may play two-guard or slide to the wing depending on the rotation.
Toler added Rhoades is a natural for the point guard slot because of the steadiness she brings to the position.
"She seems like she's the one that keeps everyone settled at times when things can get a little out of control or sort of hectic," Toler said. "She's our floor general so to speak. She's the one that sets everything up and controls everything.
"I think her teammates have a lot of confidence in her that they know once she gets the ball, they feel a little bit more comfortable and secure knowing that the ball is secured."
Moore will also provide dependability, no matter her role, Toler said.
"Haeley Moore is a good, all-around player," he said. "She's a solid player, a good team player, a good floor leader. She leads by example. She doesn't say a whole lot, but she'll give you everything she's got. She handles the ball well. She attacks the basket well. She's got a nice jumper and a nice shot.
"When I need somebody stopped defensively, she gets that assignment. She's just the player I, as a coach, I've gotten to the point where I sort of expect more out of Haeley than I do others, probably for the simple fact that anything I ask her to do, whether she likes it or not, she accepts the challenge and gives you 100 percent."
Toler said he expects both Moore and Rhoades to assume starting roles, but beyond the pair, many players will be competing for the remaining spots.
"The other three positions are up for grabs," he said. "We've got a bunch of girls that's really working their butts off to try and get that."
Juniors Micharae Thompson will be among those fighting for a starting position. Thompson returns healthy after breaking her wrist in 2011. Sophomore Haylea Roberson and junior transfers Morgan Eggleton (Charleston Catholic) and Karley Rogers (Poca) will also battle for starting spots. Other expected key contributors include juniors Mackenzie Arthur, Chelsea Kirby, Marita Passero, sophomore Jayne Lawman.
Toler said he could employ as many as five different starting lineups depending upon the opponent. The slew of interchangeable parts should keep Winfield playing quick, as is the plan.
"We think we may be playing 10, 11 or 12 deep just rotating and trying to keep some fresh legs on the floor," Toler said, "just trying to pressure the ball and cause things to happen there before we let them get into the half-court set, so they can't pound it in on us."
Toler said he expects some road bumps and adversity as he tries to find the right rotation and the girls learn their positions. That's OK, as long as the Generals continue to improve and hit their stride when it counts.
"Our goal for the last few years has been not necessarily how we start, but how we finish," Toler said, "and looking to be peaking and putting all the parts to the puzzle coming together in middle, late January. That's what we're working for."
Winfield opens its season when the Generals play host to Lincoln County at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.