WENATCHEE — Coach Robin Kansky knows the Wenatchee girls basketball team will flourish in the future. The issue at hand, though, is developing the young cast of players and forging an identity that can maximize player output.
“All our team’s going to be real young, but it’s something to look forward to in the future and it gives younger kids an opportunity,” he said.
The Panthers finished the season 16-9 last year, third in league and third in district and narrowly missed a state appearance after losing a playoff game to Central Valley, who finished second in state last year. But that was a markedly different core of players.
Wenatchee rallied around Michaela George, a veteran post player who could consistently hit double digits figures in scoring and rebounding on a nightly basis and set the school’s career rebounding record.
Aside from George, the Panthers had a group of eight seniors, six of which had considerable varsity experience.
There’s no getting around that George will be tough to replace.
“She put the bar pretty high for us,” Katie Kansky said. “She’s somebody we look up to … She was one of our star players, but she was a really good team player.”
This year’s starting lineup is three juniors, one sophomore and a freshman — only junior point guard Katie Kansky and sophomore guard Ali Sealby played varsity last year. But the Panthers will bring a more balanced offensive approach onto the court this year.
Coach Kansky has revamped the team’s strategy to reflect his personnel. Post play and half court offense have been put aside for a frenetic, up-tempo approach in aspirations of capitalizing off the squad’s speed and athleticism.
Kansky said he wants everybody to feel comfortable shooting and as the season wares on, everything should fall into place naturally.
“All the kids know they got the green light to shoot,” he said. “Everybody’s a shooter right now, until we get established.”
If Wenatchee’s season-opener against Lake City’s any indication, it might take some time.
Katie Kansky and Sealby led the team with 17 and 10 points, respectively. But the Panthers got solid contributions from a number of other players too.
Additionally, the team got solid contributions from Maddi Halberg, Olivia Doerr and Olivia Schroeder in its first full weekend of play, which it split 1-1.
The less experienced varsity players haven’t been shy about taking shots and have made a point of pushing the flow of the game whenever possible.
Although they’re off to a 1-2 start, the egalitarian offensive approach has been an encouraging sign.
Sealby and Katie Kansky readily admitted they have an important task in the team’s transitive season. As the few experienced returners, its up to them to encourage teammates to take shots when they’re open and keep the confidence levels high.
“A lot of people are going to have to step up after the first time,” Sealby said prior to the season-opener. “I think we’re going to be fine after we get out the first game jitters.”
Jon Frank: 661-5202