Seymour girls put in work
Brandi Stallings experienced something new in her tenure at Seymour High School this summer.
The girls basketball coach had players calling her up, as early as June, and asking her to open up the gym so they could work on their game.
“They’ve really taken the initiative,” Stallings said. “ ... To be successful I think that’s where it has to start. Until they feel it’s important and want to take a little initiative on their own I don’t think there’s going to be meaningful results.”
The Eagles hope that extra work will pay off this season after fading late last year. Seymour had a seven-game win streak in the season’s first month, part of a 10-2 start, before going 6-12 and ending the year on a four-game losing streak.
Stallings said she’s not sure why her team struggled down the stretch last year but this winter the goal is to get back to the region tournament.
“Team chemistry, we lacked a little bit in that area (last year),” said forward Mariah Flynn. “Finishing. Finishing strong, we didn’t do that well toward the end of the season, which is why we lost some games that we should’ve won. We did a lot of team bonding and we’re a much more close-knit team.”
The Eagles will feature a smaller, but more athletic and speedier, lineup than in the past. Stallings said that should allow her team to do some things it hasn’t been able to do before. Getting out of the district starts with a trio of seniors, led by the nearly 6-foot Flynn. Stallings said Flynn will have to be both an offensive threat and big on the boards for the Eagles.
Junior Cheyenne King will be depended on to provide help both inside and outside. Stallings said King can drive and shoot 3-pointers, which should open up the inside for bruisers like classmate Victoria Nelson.
King will also be asked to step up defensively.
“She’s probably our bet defender,” Stallings said. “She’ll draw some tough assignments. ... I feel like she’s ready for that challenge and she’s going to accept that. She’s a great team player. She’s going to be asked to do a lot.”
Stallings also has high hopes for what she calls a “combo player” in Caroline Ford. The sophomore can play both the post and guard, bringing some versatility to the court. The point will be split by a pair of Ford’s classmates, Mikayla Harris and Camille Davis. While both are young, Stallings said there’s plenty of upside at that position.
“We’ve worked hard with those two to be leaders and communicators,” Stallings said. “It’s hard for them being sophomores. They made huge strides over the summer. I’m excited where those two are right now as they develop.”
After last year’s finish, there’s not only that kind of optimism among Stallings’ players, but a determination to go further in February. Senior Lexi Justus rattled off her summer work, from time in the gym to running around her neighborhood to working on free throws.
“We had to change something,” Justus said. “We just ended our season terrible. We had to get better so we could have a better season this year than we did last year.”