Mineola’s first year head girls Basketball Coach Tony Riley says this year’s team will be a fast-paced defensive-minded team that will put constant pressure on their opponents.
And with the Lady Jackets basketball season now underway Riley’s number one goal will be to get the Lady Jackets back into playoff contention after a multi-year playoff drought in girl’s basketball.
“The main thing we’ve been working on so far this year is getting these girls in tip top shape so they can play 94-feet at full speed. Everything we do in practice is full-speed and fast-paced because that’s exactly how we want to play. Our calling card will be our defensive disruption with our full court pressing,” Riley said last week.
Previously Riley was an assistant boys basketball and football coach, however as a first year head coach Riley says the only thing that’s different now is he has control of planning out his own game strategies and practice programs.
“A lot of people might think you have to coach girls differently than boys, but I believe you should coach all your players in the same manner whether they’re a girl or a boy,” Riley said.
One of the key differences Riley did say he’s noticed since becoming the head girls varsity coach was that his girls team seems more willing to be taught and seem to listen more effectively to his coaching so far.
“While a lot of the guys I’ve coached in the past have been talented I think this group of girls is really willing to learn the game and be taught how to do things on the court correctly. Everytime I show them something they try their best to do what I ask, as a coach that’s all you can ask for,” Riley said.
The Lady Jackets this season will be a somewhat undersized but fast team overall, and will rely a lot on their defense to create easy opportunities for them on offense.
The team will be relying heavily on three familiar faces from the volleyball court. Sabria Dean, Jessiah Riley and Megan Brewington will each have to play huge roles this season if the team wants to make the playoffs in 2017-2018.
Dean is expected to be the team’s leading scorer and will be asked to create shots for her team on offense, while Riley and Brewington will be the leaders on the defensive side and the head of the team’s full court pressing defense.
“Having these three girls who have all played together and know each other from playing other sports is a great benefit. These girls get along with each other very well, and know each other’s temperament and personalities.” Riley said.
With all three players being sophomores this season the team has a chance to be very good over the next couple years if the team is able to gel the way Coach Riley hopes. The Lady Jackets will be fighting teams like Edgewood, Grand Saline and Alba-Golden for playoff spots as February approaches.
The Lady Jackets will be on the road at Emory-Rains Thursday for their first road game of the year. Tip-off is slated for 6:15 p.m.