Strength in numbers for Horizon hoopsters

By BEN MCCARTY

News staff writer

December 9, 2006

It is a bumper year for Horizon Christian School basketball.

Many larger schools routinely carry 15 players on their varsity roster. For the Horizon teams, they are just glad to have more than one person on the bench to be able to give the starters a break.

Four years ago both the boys’ team and the girls’ team had only six players. This year the boys have fourteen players in the program, while the girls have thirteen.

Jacque Mellow and Laura Yates are two of the girls’ side five seniors, a group that started the team their freshman season.

“We’ve got a lot more people coming out this year which is nice,” Yates, the team’s starting point guard, said.

This year’s team is heavy at opposite ends of the spectrum, with five seniors and five freshmen.

Mellow said that the team’s seniors have “adopted” the younger players and are working to pass on the knowledge and experience they have gained so that they will continue to improve after the seniors graduate.

Coach Amanda Bellus believes only good things can come from team’s blend of experience and youth.

“This is the best team we’ve ever had for sure,” she said.

Bellus has focused her team on defense, and feels that it is paying off.

“Our defense is pretty tenacious,” she said. “We play a tough zone and we perfected it over the summer.”

The team’s offense has struggled at times over the first few games of the season, but Mellow and Yates feel that will work itself out as the season goes along.

“I think its going to start getting more concrete,” Mellow said.

Yates felt that as the freshman become more comfortable things should settle down.

“We are solid on offense as long as we don’t get panicky,” she said.

In addition to Mellow and Yates, Bellus is also counting on seniors Stephanie Ryan, Hannah Frost and Savannah Cox to lead the team. The seniors are planning on working hard this season, harder they say than their male counterparts who follow them onto the floor.

“We are going to put in at least 140 percent effort because we know the boys will say they will put in 120 percent,” Mellow said.

In fact, no one on the boys team gave a percentage estimate on the intensity of their planned effort this season, but that does not mean that Coach Ron Haynes has not had his team working hard since they were drilled by Southwest Christian in the second half of their season opener.

After leading at halftime, the Hawks were outscored by 27 points after the half and Haynes has had the team working on their offensive execution ever since.

“Our execution is what we are working on,” Haynes said. “Our first game we really lost in the second half.”

The Hawks are a veteran group this season, having made it to district playoffs the past two years, and returning their core group of players.

Senior Cameron Root and junior Bobby Cofrances will most likely lead them in the scoring department.

Both players stand at 6’3’ and can score both inside and outside, a formidable match up for any opponent. Fellow senior Nate Ohlson and his younger brother Josh will provide a quick change of pace and have the ability to create turnovers.

“I think we are coming together as a team,” CoFrances said. “But we need to shape up our defense.”

To do that, Root wants to see his fellow post players step up inside the paint and crash the boards.

“I think we are improving a lot in our rebounding,” he said.

After their season opening collapse, the boys want to pick up the intensity the rest of the way and try for a state playoff birth.

“I think it would be cool if we got to state,” Nate Ohlson said. “That has been a team goal for awhile now.

In order to do that they will have to battle through a tough league, although Haynes thinks his team is prepared for the task at hand.

“We had a great summer and we have a lot of anticipation this season,” he said. “We just have our work cut out for us.”

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