2009-2010 Basketball: East Rowan girls preview
By Bret Strelow
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan girls coach Karen Garmon learned more about her team in a lopsided, season-opening loss to Salisbury and came away with positive impressions.
The Mustangs fell 80-31 to the defending 2A state champions, but the toughness and intensity of several players pleased Garmon.
East finished no worse than third in its league during each of Garmon’s first four seasons as the head coach, and the Mustangs lost three standouts from a team that went 18-9 last year.
“I don’t expect for us to miss a beat,” Garmon said. “Obviously we lost three huge players, but I feel like every year there are players being developed for that role for the next year.
“I feel like we should continue to be competitive. The ones who’ve been waiting for their turn to step up and be in the spotlight, I hope they’re ready for that.”
Departed stars Ashley Collins and Katelynne Poole each scored more than 1,000 career points, and center Olivia Rankin has transferred to Salisbury.
New point guard Ashley Goins will be out for a while with a quad injury, and Garmon started a lineup of Alaina Vanderford, Mackenzie Holshouser, Madalyn File, Mallory Drew and Olivia Sabo against the Hornets.
Vanderford and Holshouser will have different roles after playing alongside Collins and Poole.
“Mackenzie and Alaina are my little terrorizers on defense,” Garmon said. “When those two are together and get you trapped, you’ll be in trouble and they love it. Both really like to get after it.”
Vanderford played the point against Salisbury and will likely move to shooting guard once Goins returns.
Vanderford averaged 3.8 points per game last season and entered her senior year with 192 career points. She led the Mustangs in scoring against Salisbury.
“I’m very impressed with her leadership ability, especially against Salisbury,” Garmon said. “They were beating the snot out of her, and she continued to bring the ball up the floor. On the sideline, she was trying to talk to her teammates.
“She gave her all, and that’s going to be Alaina. She’s kind of that player you’ll see on the sidelines gasping for air. As soon as she’s ready to go back in, she’ll go back in.”
Holshouser entered this season as East’s leading returner in terms of points per game (6.3) and career points (217). She scored as many as 14 in a game last year.
Holshouser often picks up a lot of steals and gets her teammates involved.
“When the offense gets stuck or you try to run something that’s not working, she’s going to create something,” Garmon said. “She can drive to the basket and pull off amazing layups, drive in and whip a pass you don’t even know is coming for a layup.”
Garmon expects opposing teams to underestimate Goins, a strong shooter who played on the jayvee team last season.
Tempest Means, a senior who appeared in six varsity games last year, brings quickness to the perimeter. She had seven points against the athletic Hornets late last week.
“Her and Alaina run well together because both of them are pretty fast and look to push the ball up,” Garmon said. “I think that will give our offense a little bit of a different dimension against some teams that are not expecting us to run. She proved how tough she is (Thursday), and I’ve never seen Tempest as focused as she’s been this year. That usually happens as a senior.
“She’s a firecracker for us. She’s going to come off the bench and provide some sort of excitement on the offensive or defensive end.”
Drew, an undersized forward, impressed Garmon against Salisbury by battling underneath for rebounds. She played in 13 games last season.
Garmon said Drew, who is 5-foot-6, has the best vertical jump of any female at the school.
“She’s a kid who can get up off the floor,” Garmon said. “She’s strong for her size and extremely physical.”
File has the ability to play small forward or power forward for the Mustangs. An offensive threat, her 11-point outing against North Iredell was the highlight of a season in which she averaged 3.3 points per game.
“Madalyn is one who has blended in the last couple years,” Garmon said. “I think this is going to be her breakout season.”
Sabo, who played in 25 games last season, provided East with size when Rankin exited the lineup. Garmon compares Sabo to Lauren Cress, a former East post player who was dangerous as a 3-point shooter.
“She’s the backbone of the spirit that we have this year,” Garmon said. “She’s always been a leader ever since we kept her as a freshman. She’s really stepped up and been more vocal.”
The Mustangs have quality depth with players such as Devan Corpening and Taylor Honeycutt also coming off the bench.
Corpening, an important part of East’s run to the NPC tennis championship, has good size, strength and athleticism.
“From playing tennis, she’s got those quick feet,” Garmon said. “She’s constantly bouncing around and getting after it. Of all the post players, she has the best post moves.”
Corpening and Honeycutt combined to make 19 appearances for the Mustangs last season.
Honeycutt scored six points in East’s loss to Salisbury, and Garmon liked the fact she didn’t play tentatively against the Hornets.
“You don’t know how tough she is until you get in there and play with her,” Garmon said. “She’s sweet, soft-spoken, but she gets on the floor, goes at you very hard. At Salisbury, she was diving on floor, hustling.”
The Boling twins (Bridget and Amber) are juniors who played for the jayvee team last year. They are both offensive-minded ó Bridget contributed four points against Salisbury.
The Mustangs have a pair of reserves with similar first names ó Lindsey Dunlap and Lindsay Eagle. They personify the slogan that defines East’s approach.
“They are heart, desire and fire,” Garmon said. “They’re great teammates who are always positive, always encouraging. Those are the kids you smile at because they are part of it.”