By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
ELIDA — They’re quicker than last season and they might just sneak up on the competition if things go well. For right now, the Elida Lady Tigers aren’t taking anything for granted except hard practices.
Finishing third in district last season at 17-8, Elida received a good measure of respect around District 3-1A. The players and their coach Dan Howard think they have the ability to improve on that reputation.
“The way I look at it is how well we come together and play as a team will determine what happens,” Elida coach Dan Howard said. “I feel like that’s kinda where we’re at right now. If we can get together when we come to district and play as a team, we’re going to be tough.”
Elida’s experience level will vary with the loss of four starters from last season. The Tigers will likely suit up three seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and a bevy of frosh.
Leading the Tiger pack will be senior Kodi Armitage, an all-district pick last season. She’ll be joined by senior Tori Bilberry and senior Jewlie Paiz, a transfer from Floyd.
“I think we’re still pretty good,” Armitage said, during a break in practice Wednesday.
Armitage knows a lot will be expected of her as a team leader this season and she shows her optimism.
“We have potential to be as good as we were last year,” Armitage said. “We just have to work hard and do what he (coach) tells us.”
While Howard says he is expecting great leadership from his seniors, he’s just as quick to point out the important part the freshmen will play.
“I’ll be looking for our freshmen to step up and help us this year,” Howard said. “We’ll look to them a lot early to have them tested by district so they can step right in if we’re in foul trouble.”
With a faster team this year, Howard says he’ll be looking to run if the opportunity is there.
“Hopefully our defense will create a lot of our offense,” Howard said. “Quickness could create a lot of buckets for us.”
Howard, like Armitage is optimistic, but eight years of coaching at a small school has kept him humble. He knows it won’t take much to ruin a season.
“We’re going to be young in a lot of spots,” Howard said. “We can’t afford injuries. It’s hard at a small school to stay injury-free, though.”
The Lady Tigers may get a scrimmage next week against Portales, according to Howard, otherwise they’ll keep working in the gym until their opener later this month. They are scheduled to host Tucumcari on Nov. 29.