Lady Vikings off to better start, want to peak late

The Williams High School girls basketball team made it through the first half of the season with a respectable 7-3 overall record. More importantly, the Lady Vikings won their Canyon Region opener over Mayer in December to get off to a 1-0 start in the conference.

Coach Lorenzo Rodriguez has seen his team play better early-season basketball compared to the past few years. The Lady Vikings had traditionally been a slow starter, coming on late in the season to qualify for the state playoffs.

When it comes to the Williams girls, team speed has been one of the most visible strengths through the first 10 games. The Lady Vikings have the ability to steal the ball and generally disrupt opposing offenses because of that speed.

However, the area of concern for Rodriguez, which has been true over the past three years, has been getting the job done with two simple areas — layups and free-throw shooting.

“We have a pretty good chance if the girls play up to their ability,” Rodriguez said earlier this season. “It all depends on how the girls play.”

Finishing the job on fast breaks has been one of those concern areas again this year.

“If we can only make our layups,” Rodriguez said. “We make the layups in practice but in the games, they’re going harder and quicker."

Williams did make improvements in that area in the past few games, but still had breakdowns on offense. In the Camp Verde tournament over the holiday break, for example, Williams would click for most of the game, but have the one bad quarter to get into a hole.

The Lady Vikings made vast improvements with their free-throw shooting during the Camp Verde tournament. In the first game vs. Cottonwood Mingus, Williams shot 75 percent. In the win over Fredonia, the team shot 70 percent. Both of those performances were much better than the season average.

The team dipped back down to 35 percent in the third game of the tournament vs. Sedona to make the score much closer than it should have been.

Co-coaches Rodriguez and Kristi Fredrickson express confidence in the team, however, and believe they will make a run at the playoffs again this year.

The team features a balanced lineup with different heroes each game. Lyssa Mulvihill has the top scoring average at 12.3 points per game.

The Lady Vikings get back into region action this week with games at Orme and at home vs. St. Johns. The home game vs. the Redskins will be the first contest at WHS since early December.

Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday at 5:30 p.m. A junior-varsity girls game is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

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