The Meskwaki Warriors are getting ready for basketball season and part of the preparations include a shuffling around of the coaching staff.
Harvey Davenport will be the new head coach for the boys team. Davenport, who was the assistant girls basketball coach last year, is still trying to get to know his team. "I've still got to see what kind of offering we'll be bringing to the table," said Davenport. "I'll probably have the same system as the previous coach. Essentially, it'll be the same style, but I'll tweak it a bit to my liking."
The Warriors will be looking to better their 9-12 season record last year. But, standing in their way will be teams like Colo-Nesco who went 21-3 and North Tama with a 19-5 record. Davenport doesn't seem to be too worried about them though. "I'm more worried about my team and the stuff we need to do." One of the challenges facing Davenport is that the Meskwaki High School opened it's doors in 2009. They don't have a long established basketball program to fall back on like some of the older schools in the Iowa Star Conference. "We're still a young team and tryng to get to know each other," said Davenport.
Meskwaki Warrior Tiana Thompson was on the court last week with the rest of the Warrior team practicing for their first game scheduled for next Tuesday against GMG.
One setback they'll have to deal with is that the team lost four of it's top six players this year to graduation including their top scorer last year, Stacy YoungBear. However their second best shooter, junior Vincent Lasley will be back on the squad. Last year, Lasley scored 254 points during the season averaging 13.4 points per game. Lasley's field goal percentage was 47.9 percent and he hit seven of 32 three-pointers. At the free throw line he shot 39.5 percent. Also returning will be senior Winston Wolf. Wolf averaged 4.3 points per game with 32.7 percent from the field. From three point territory he hit 25 percent and 36.4 percent of his free throws.
Coaching the girls team this hear will be another new head coach, Steadman Brown. Steadman was assistant coach for the boys team last year and his brother Heath, who was head boys coach last year, moves into the girls assistant coach position.
Like the boys team, the girls are facing the challenge of being a very young team. "We're a very young program," said Brown. "we're still trying to establish the fundamentals." One of the funamentals that's Brown is focusing on is building teamwork and morale. "We're trying to make them like a family," said Brown. "We just went to Rube's a couple of nights ago just to hang out, socialize." Brown admitted that in the past they've had problems with these issues. "A lot of times in the past, we'd be down 10 points and just fall apart," he said.
All-conference first team Tiana Thompson who's returning to the team as a junior this year also agreed that teamwork was a problem in the past, but it's not an issue this year, "There's not as much arguing now," said Thompson. "It's really nice, we're coming together as a team." Tompson, who says she's very excited that the season is finally here, was top scorer for the team last year with a 13.5 point per game average shooting 37.8 percent. Thompson scored 270 points for the team last season and made a whopping 74 steals. Two other shooters returning this year will be Jaden Davenport and Hunter Youngbear. Davenport averaged 9.3 per game hitting 56 percent of her shots and Youngbear averaged 9.5 points per game with a 29.3 percent average. Davenport was also top rebounder for the team with 111 defensive rebounds and 63 offensive rebounds.
"We have a lot of talent," said Brown and the stats prove that. But so do the other teams in the Iowa Star - South Conference. Last year, the North Tama Redhawks had a 20-4 season. "North Tama will be the team to beat." said Brown. "But, we live for those games. Sometimes we get spanked," he chuckled. "but it's not over till the buzzer. I keep telling the girls that."
Though neither coach would make a prediction about the season, Davenport did have a warning for their competitors. "Basketball is our sport," he emphasized. "Sports like volleyball, they're just to keep the girls in shape for basketball season."