Going from one coach to another can be a tricky transition in girls basketball. Some programs won’t lose their stride. Others will struggle.
Northwest Byron Nelson may be defying both areas of logic. The Lady Bobcats have areas where the transition has been seamless, but its share of struggles as well.
New head coach Jim Avery is still trying to implement his strategy of a full court game on both ends of the floor. But a rash of four torn ACL injuries have disrupted what he would truly like to do.
Coming from Grady late in the summer, so that he didn’t have any kind of offseason with the players, Avery had to implement everything when the 2016-2017 school year began. There have been some good moments and frustrations as Nelson (6-7, 0-1 District 5-6A) continued district play this week.
The Lady Bobcats played host to Flower Mound on Tuesday before traveling to prohibitive district favorite Euless Trinity on Friday. Nelson played eight of its first 13 games in tournaments.
“It’s been a struggle for us, but the girls are giving me everything they have,” Avery said. “We’re not where we want to be shooting and rebounding the ball. The interesting thing is that we’re also not a young team with sophomores and freshmen or an older team with a lot of seniors. We’re a mix. I think we’re still in a period where we’re getting to know each other.”
Two of those ACL injuries occurred before the season started. Sophomore wing Hunter Roach suffered her knee injury in July and will be out for the season. The team then lost sophomore forward Alexia Matheus days before the season began. Losing Roach really hurts because she had a strong freshman season and had the makings of being one of this team’s go-to players.
But the program also received a lift from freshman point guard Brittney Bolin. Moving over from a nearby private school, she’s hardly come off the floor, Avery said. But then again, he didn’t have any choice but to keep her on it.
“We’re grateful to have her,” Avery said. “I really like the way she handles the ball. She’s a coach’s daughter [Bolin’s father is a select league coach]. She’s a smart young lady and has great savvy. I’ve been impressed how she’s handled the challenge of 6A ball.”
If the Lady Bobcats are going to be in playoff contention this year, they’re going to have to have a strong performance from senior guard Hannah Sellinger. Once this program’s top three-point threat, Sellinger missed the 2015-2016 campaign with a torn ACL.
So far, her return has had ups and downs. Avery understands the frustration and said he is doing what he can to help her confidence return.
“I know she’s been apprehensive [about playing on the knee],” Avery said. “About two weeks ago, she was dealing with some soreness. It is hard to come back from a tough injury, but I like the work she’s putting in. Plus, she’s been a great teammate for the rest of our girls.”
There is still the opportunity for sophomore post Sloane Johnson to contribute. That may depend on the pace Nelson plays and the opponent it faces.
“We’re going to keep working,” Avery said. “There may be times we can play 94 feet like we want. But this break after these district games is coming at the right time.”