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2011-12 Basketball: Davie County girls preview

By Brian Pitts
Davie Enterprise Record
The Davie varsity girls basketball team outperformed expectations in Denny Keyís first year as coach in 2010-11, winning eight games when people were predicting one, two or fewer wins. With the top two scorers back, Key expects Davie to show significant improvement from the 8-17 record that included a 3-7, fourth-place mark in the Central Piedmont Conference.
And with only one senior on this yearís team, thereís considerable hopes for the coming years. In other words, Keyís rebuilding project is right on schedule. His coaching mantra is survive, build, win. This is phase two.
ěWe could be tough this year if weíll buy into some things,î said Key. ěWeíre miles ahead of last year. We had some summer time together. It depends on who I can get in a 50-point game.
ěWe only have one senior. Iíd like to think by next year we can be smarter, bigger, tougher and be even better. Itís a bright future. If we will buy into defense, can eliminate freelancing on defense and can eliminate five bad shots a game, weíre going to be able to handle people this year.î
Key is going to battle with just eight players. The lone senior is Laura Shelton. Amy Steller and Sydney Wooten are juniors. Anne-Marie Jones, Emeral Gadson and Elizabeth Smith are sophomores. There are two freshmen (Asiah Peterson and McKayla Bohannon). Key is not concerned the least bit about depth – as long as Davie avoids injuries.
ěThe eight players we have are the eight I wanted,î he said. ěI think they all can go on the floor against top-notch competition and hold their own. So itís not an issue.î
Davie will build around the Steller-Shelton foundation. The backcourt duo was 1-2 in scoring a year ago, with Steller averaging 15 points a game and Shelton 10.5. Teaming for 629 points, they accounted for 57 percent of the offense.
Steller is a point guard who delivered eight 20-point games. She made a living at the line, going 15 of 19, 10 of 12 and 14 of 17 on free throws in three of Davieís games.
ěAmy looks like sheís a better shooter,î Key said. ěShe looks stronger. Sheís really been distributing the ball well. I just think sheís getting ready to have a great year. All her shots are looking good. What really helped us was having Amy the first week (after she finished cross country). That was a tremendous advantage to us.î
Shelton, a combo guard, is a proven scorer who cracked double figures 13 times last year.
ěLaura looks even better this year,î he said. ěSheís shown the ability to score, and sheís a great competitor. Amy and Laura are going to stand out. Theyíre real tough players in game situations.î
A newcomer, Wooten, is a Davie County resident who spent the past two years at Bishop McGuinness. But her father, Sterling Wooten, played for Key at Forbush in the late 1970s, and it was a no-brainer for Sydney to transfer to Davie to play for Key. And she figures to play a vital role. She can play inside and outside.
ěSheís going to line up against a lot of 6-footers or bigger,î he said. ěShe works very hard on defense, and she can shoot the 3. She was an absolute must in terms of having her on the team. We needed another fundamental player and another player who understands she can help us win without scoring.î
Key hopes Gadson, who played varsity as a freshman, is the piece that completes the puzzle. If she doesnít recover sufficiently from a summer knee injury, Davie will have a tougher time competing on the boards.
ěEmeral is our best athlete,î he said. ěShe should be our leading rebounder, and she should be one of our top defenders. Her athletic ability and ability to run the floor are going to give her plenty of opportunities to score.î
The fourth returner is Smith, who played up as a freshman. Key is expecting her to make significant contributions on the wing.
ěSheís an all-around player,î he said. ěShe can shoot the 3, sheís a good defender and she can get up and down the floor.î
Peterson, a post player, is the future star. Whatís better, she appears up to the challenge as a freshman. Key likes her work ethic and attitude.
ěShe has the ability in another year or so to be a scoring machine,î he said. ěShe has really been shooting the ball well. I think youíll have to guard her outside and inside before sheís through here. Sheís a little undersized – sheís 5-9, maybe 5-10 – and sheís going to be playing 6-foot to 6-4s. But I donít think (playing against juniors and seniors) is going to bother her a bit.î
The only player up from last yearís JV, Jones, has won raves from Key. She has intangibles that coaches love.
ěSheís physical inside,î he said. ěShe gives us more physicality than anyone else. We played some games this summer, and she just absolutely battled. She runs the floor so hard. Itís a high-energy level. Sheís an essential inside player. When we brought her up last year at the end of the season, she scored against our varsity. She picks up instruction really well.î
Bohannon has shown enough potential to make the varsity as a freshman. ěSheís a very athletic player,î he said. ěSheís got a good nose for the game.î
Key is not concerned about depth, and heís not concerned about Davieís modest size, either.
ěIíve seen seven of our players hit 3s against competition,î he said. ěI think we have some weapons when people focus their defense on Steller and Shelton. Each of the other girls could be a leading scorer on a given night. As a team I donít worry too much about size. Iíd rather have athleticism, and we have eight good athletes. I feel like we have eight starters.î
Notes
Thereís one sure way to find your way to Keyís bench. ěThe player who doesnít run the floor is coming to the bench,î he said.
Weathering the nonconference storm will be a chore for the War Eagles. Key canít find a cupcake. ěLast year we played the 4-A state champion (Southwest Guilford),î he said. ěWe played the second-best 1-A team in the state (Rivermill). We played one of the best 3-A teams in the state (North Iredell). And this year is going to be no different. We have a loaded schedule.î
Sterling Wooten was a senior on the 1978-79 Forbush team that finished second in the Frank Spencer tournament, won the conference title in a 3-A league and won a then-school record 19 games. ěI was a whole lot different guy when I coached Sterling,î he said. ěWe didnít have a three-point shot back then. Sterling was a good outside shooter, but I didnít let them take many. I had a couple absolute bangers inside, so we tried to hold the other team to 50 and we tried to score 51. That record (for wins) stood until L.D. Williamsí team broke it a few years ago.î
If Key plucks a player from the JV, the first one up will be sophomore guard Courtney Bode. ěWhen she plays against us, she scores,î he said. ěSheís a hustling player. I donít want to have to do that. I think sheíll play in the holiday tournament and postseason with us.î

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