Tigers set for new season, open against Clarksville tonight

Coach Kevin Hensley says he is anxious to get the season started for his Crothersville girls basketball team.

“I’m excited,” he said before a practice last week.

He is working with seven girls this fall, including seniors Kendall Berry and Morgan Womack.

Berry started last winter and averaged 1.5 points per game, while Womack contributed off of the bench.

He is hoping the Tigers can be competitive this winter.

“The future looks really good,” he said as there are seven eighth-graders playing basketball. “A lot of those eighth-graders played with us in the summer at Edinburgh.”

Hensley said the Tigers were without freshman Hali Burton at the Edinburgh league.

“She’s our ball handler,” Hensley said. “We’re going to try and keep the floor spread as much as we can. We’ll try to get some driving lanes if we can.”

Hensley is counting on Jaceline Clay for inside play.

“JoJo (Clay) has a lot of experience. She transferred from Austin last year, so she had to sit out, she couldn’t play,” he said. “She will help scoring and rebounding. She’s strong. She can shoot the outside shot, too.”

Berry and Underwood are the only seniors on the roster, and Clay is the only junior. Clay played her freshman year at Austin and practiced with the Tigers last season.

Hensley said a big key for his team is to keep the turnovers down from last year’s team that went 3-14.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball. We’ve been working on shooting a lot because if we can’t just literally shoot, we can’t even run our offense to score. We’ve been coming in on Saturdays and doing nothing but shooting,” Hensley said.

“We know our offense. Now, we’re just working on our ball handling and shooting, things like that,” he said. “We’ll fast break when we can. We’re working on that. We do what we call a ‘17 and under fast break.’ It’s something I got from the AAU 17 and under. It’s getting the ball out real quick, getting it to the wings and getting a layup before the defense can get back. Scoring that way is really big.”

Hensley said on defense, the Tigers will play a lot of half-court man and zone.

“We’ll switch it around quite a bit and see what we can do better,” he said. “We might even change our zone up to a 2-1-2 or a 3-2, just to switch it up a little bit, give them different looks.”

With just seven players, he said, “We won’t be able to press a lot, maybe late in the games because of the numbers.”

Freshmen Dacie Hughes, Ally Mendoza, Hali Burton and Hayden Pilgrim are the other members of the team.

The Tigers will open their season at home tonight by hosting Clarksville for a 7 p.m. game. Clarksville is 0-3, losing to West Washington last Thursday and dropping two games in a tournament at South Decatur on Saturday.

“Hopefully, we play better than we did last year,” Hensley said. “I think overall, we’re better than we were last year, even with four freshmen. We need to keep our turnovers down. Turnovers are a big thing. We can’t turn the ball over, and we’ve got to rebound.

“We should be able to eat up the rebound with JoJo and Kendall because they know how to box out well, and same with Hayden,” he said. “I really like my freshmen, Hali and Hayden. That’s the one thing I’m excited about. Hali can play inside or out. She is strong enough to go inside on a girl, and she can handle the ball.”

Hensley likes the way his team has improved so far.

“They started out rocky, but the last two weeks, it has been a lot better,” he said. “I’m looking to see how they come out (tonight). I’m going to try and have them pretty fired up to jump on that first win, and everything should get better from there.”

The Tigers will open their Southern Athletic Conference schedule Nov. 15 at Borden.