DORA LADY COYOTES
Coach: Caleb King, 5th year
Dora senior point guard Jasi Roberts looks to pass to a teammate as she goes down the lane during a drill in Saturday's practice at Dora. The Lady Coyotes open the 2012-13 season today at San Jon.
Last year: 18-8 (4-2 District 8-1A, reached state quarterfinals
Returning starters: 3
Key players: Jasi Roberts, Sr. (5-4, PG); Jordan Hale, Sr. (5-5, G); Taylor Dillard, So. (5-10, F); Kevyn Fereirra, Fr. (5-7, F); Micaah Pallares, Jr. (5-3, G)
Outlook: Don't look for a bunch of height on this year's team, but take your eye off the Lady Coyotes for too long and they'll try to run right by you.
After making the 2012 1A state quarterfinals, where it lost by four to Des Moines, Dora hopes to make another foray deep into the state meet. The first task for the Lady Coyotes is to replace the likes of graduated leading scorer Aubrey Butler.
Dillard will literally stand out because, at 5-10, she's the tallest girl on the team by a few inches. Everyone else is in the 5-3 to 5-7 range, but that's fine with King.
"We will push the ball," he said. "We're real athletic and go up and down really fast. We've got some young girls coming in and they've got to learn some things. Day in, day out, consistency is going to be our biggest challenge."
Look for players like Ferierra to enter the paint area and help Dillard out inside. On the perimeter, Roberts can score the long range shot.
"They saw a lot of minutes last year," King said. "They get in front (of opponents) and are real physical – that's how they survive."
ELIDA LADY TIGERS
Coach: Dan Howard, 14th year
Last year: 18-9 (8-0 District 2-B, Class B state champions)
Returning starters: 5
Key players: Kaylen Jasso, Jr. (6-0, C); Marily Varela, So. (5-6, PG); Reda Allison, Sr. (5-8, F); Hunter Haley, Jr. (5-5, G); Kayla Summers, So. (5-8, F)
Outlook: With no seniors on a team that had its way with the field in the state tournament, the only alarm bell for the squad that's coming back in an obvious one —too much confidence.
Elida's three wins at state last March were by margins of 25, 16 and 18 points as the Lady Tigers wrapped up their second straight Class B title. Given that the talent level is the same, coach Dan Howard's task is to keep his young minds focused on doing what's required to win again.
"(If) you get to thinking that you don't need to work hard in practice, it'll be a problem after a while," Howard said. "They're a fun bunch to be around and they do work hard. Sometimes they get a little cocky, and I guess they have the right to be somewhat, but I try to get on them all the time about overconfidence."
Jasso and Varela were the leading scorers for Elida a year ago and they've got plenty of returning help. Allison provides some senior leadership at a forward position and, in that department, the Tigers should benefit from the return of senior guard Shealton Veo-Chenault, who sat out last season with a knee injury.
Elida girls teams have won a combined five straight state titles in volleyball (three ) and basketball. As opposed to the boys teams at the school, Howard has plenty of numbers on his side.
"We're just loaded with girls, no boys (at the school), and they can all play," Howard said. "They're all going to see playing time. It's a good bunch."
FLOYD LADY BRONCOS
Coach: Adam Terry, 5th year
Last year: 10-18 (2-4 District 8-1A, reached state tourney first round)
Returning starters: 5
Key players: Tabitha Ornelas, Jr. (5-4, G); Dominique Gomez, Sr. (5-6, C); Monique Gomez, Sr. (5-6, C); Delta Navarrette, Sr. (5-6, F); Tessa Nall, Jr. (5-5, G)
Outlook: The Lady Broncos, in one year, may have traversed the gap between inexperienced and mature enough to compete with everybody. At least that's what coach Adam Terry hopes as his team returns intact from the 2011-12 campaign.
Floyd's backcourt is paced by leading scorer Ornelas, who will get help from Nall and senior Shayla Whitecotton. The Gomez twins, Dominique and Monique, man the post position while Navarrette, sophomore Jasmine Gomez, senior Addison Deen and junior Taryn Lee help out in the frontcourt.
How much the team has progressed since last March will determine whether the Broncos can compete with 1A power Tatum in district. The Lady Coyotes advanced to the state championship game and, similar to Floyd, bring back the bulk of their team for the 2012-'13 campaign.
"We were just a lie too young last year, but they've matured a lot in a year and really worked hard over the summer," Terry said. "Experience matters a lot. All around, it's just falling into place."
— Compiled by Eric Butler, CMI correspondent