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Sun, Oct. 20

Lady Vikings ready for the next step this season

Tami Edes is among the talented underclassmen who will contribute to Williams this season.

Williams coach Lorenzo Rodriguez knows his team does not have an automatic ticket to the playoffs, so there’s work to be done and injuries to avoid. But the subject of advancing past the first round does remain in his thoughts.

“The goal is always the same, make it to state,” Rodriguez said. “We also want to win our first state playoff game. We’ve been up there five out of six times and haven’t won anything yet.”

The four seniors went to state during their freshmen, sophomore and junior seasons, coming closest to a win in their first year. In 2000, Palo Verde Christian (now Pusch Ridge) survived a late Vikings rally to win, 46-42. In 2001, Tombstone eliminated Williams, 57-48. Last year, Duncan won by 21 points in a score the team would rather forget.

“Speed is what will get us there, we’re not very tall,” said Rodriguez, who lost last year’s inside force in foreign-exchange student Helen Schimanowski. “We’ll have to push the ball, that’s our intent.”

Mulvihill and Rocha will begin their fourth year as starters, both finding their way into the starting lineup as freshmen. Fogg was the sixth “man” that first year and worked her way into a starting role as a sophomore. Wamble, used in specific game situations for the Vikings, and has been one of the most-improved players over the past three years.

Rodriguez likes the possibilities this season when it comes to speed, but the coach also plans to attack underneath and from the perimeter when in the half-court offense. Rodriguez said they will try to get the ball inside to Wamble, periodically to Mulvihill and possibly in to sophomore Tami Edes.

After the four seniors, the Williams roster begins to look a little young. The lone junior is Sylvia Aguilar and the other 11 players are freshmen and sophomores.

“The four seniors are probably the nucleus of the team,” Rodriguez said. “I have my one junior and four good sophomores who will contribute. There are good prospects from the freshmen.”

As of last week, there were 17 players on the roster with an 18th expected to join.

Rocha, Fogg and Mulvihill are pegged to start in the team’s three guards positions, but Mulvihill will also play forward. Wamble will play center. Changes include limiting Rocha to point guard instead of shooting guard and using Fogg more as a penetrating type of player who can dish off.

Good court time on the varsity should also go to Aguilar, Michelle Barnes, Tami Edes, Teri Stevens and Jarah Dent. Barnes has been slowed by a finger injury in preseason drills.

Rodriguez said Dent has showed good improvement, along with some other players who worked out during the offseason.

“From the freshmen group, several of them, and I can’t say which ones, but there are several who could help out the varsity in certain situations,” Rodriguez said.

Cara Krupski and Danielle Kurtz are two other sophomores and the freshmen group includes Ashley Mulvihill, Michelle Sandoval, Alyssa Dennison, Tricia Gaines and Alicia O’Neil. Foreign-exchange student Tara Melenhorst is also on the roster.

“We’ll try to use our quickness on the inside and we’re working on some individual moves,” Rodriguez said. “If the opponent is tall, we can still use quickness to our advantage and again, by pushing the ball up the floor.”

Williams had always featured players with quickness and the Lady Vikings usually come out with more steals than their opponents. But oddly enough, the team has always had problems making layups in fast-break situations.

Rodriguez admits there has been a layup problem. “We’re shooting over a hundred layups a day,” the coach said last week about practice.

But more than that, it’s showing the ability to adjust to the opponent’s defense that could mean the difference between wins and losses, and advancing at the state tournament.

“Getting physical underneath the basket, that’s another thing we’re working on,” Rodriguez said. “If we get rebounds, take it straight up. If we can push it and they collapse, we go outside.”

If Williams can execute that type of balance, opponents in the Canyon Region and elsewhere could have their hands full.

“We have several girls who can hit from three-point range,” Rodriguez said about the team’s outside game. “Ashley can hit and Lyssa every once in a while. Dee Dee pops them in from out there. Sylvia can hit them once in a while.”

Williams may also rely on its depth to wear down teams.

“I believe depth is hopefully going to be our advantage, if everybody stays healthy,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve never gone to state yet with everybody healthy.”

The coach has been impressed with the off-season workouts.

“Most of these girls work on and off during the summer and in the weight room,” Rodriguez said. “You’ll see the difference as far strength. With the weight program, they’re in good shape. Right now, I think this team is in better shape than any other team I’ve had so far to this point.

The Canyon Region will be competitive again this season. Rodriguez expects St. Johns to be very competitive and mentioned Mogollon, Orme and Mayer as usually putting good teams on the floor.

Williams will scrimmage Ash Fork at home on Friday. The girls scrimmage will begin at 5 p.m.

The regular season opens Nov. 26 at Camp Verde. After a Dec. 3 trip to Grand Canyon, the Lady Vikes will participate in the Williams Holiday Tournament, which has expanded to 16 girls teams this year.

The first regular-season home game after the Williams tournament will be Dec. 13 against Many Farms.

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