With his most experienced player out until late in the season, Southwestern head coach Jason West needs to find leadership and consistency quickly.
Point guard Lilly Rooks (10.7 points, four rebounds, two assists in an all-conference junior season) tore an ACL in her knee during a summer basketball event and is out until January. Rooks, a two-time state finalist long jumper, is “recovering really well,” according to West.
“We’re starting off very inexperienced,” said West, in his second season as head coach of the Spartans. “Rooks is a big key we’re missing.”
West will turn to seniors Cy Stockdale and McKinley Correll to lead the program. Correll (4.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists last season) is a four-year varsity player while Stockdale (4.6 points, team-high 20 made 3-pointers) is in her third year.
“From there, we will fill in some roles,” said West. “We’ve got height and athleticism, and a lot of length.”
Haley Casey, a 5-8 junior, returns to the program after sitting out her sophomore year. She was a rostered player on Southwestern’s 2021 sectional championship team.
Sophomore Tanna Tatlock returns to Southwestern where both her older sisters had successful careers. Tatlock started last season at Hauser after attending eighth grade at Southwestern.
“She has a lot of skill and talent,” said West.
Riley Engle, a 5-10 junior, has not played basketball since eighth grade but West labels her and Rooks as the school’s two best female athletes.
Bailey Taylor, a 5-10 sophomore transfer from Columbus North, adds to Southwestern’s front line of athletes.
“She is athletic, a lanky wing to use,” said West. “She had an outstanding volleyball season.”
Junior Ellie Gosser rounds out the varsity rotation.
West anticipates as many as 11 players rotating through the varsity bench this season.
“We have a lot of girls that will get varsity minutes,” he said. “We will be splitting a lot of girls between the junior varsity and varsity. A lot of them will fill out the end of our varsity rotation.”
Southwestern opened the season today at South Decatur. West will use the early part of the season to evaluate the group and figure out how best to use his team’s athletes.
“With so much inexperience, we have to figure out what we can do and what suits our game the best,” said West. “We’ve got athletic ability and length but with Rooks not in, it will take time to figure out what we can do.”
The Spartans ended up losing 48-36 at South Decatur which gives West more information to add to the practice plans.
“We just need to get into a four-quarter game and see what happens,” he said Friday morning. “Win, lose or draw, it’s a learning experience.
“We may take some lumps at the beginning of the year but we will be competitive. We will play hard and do some good things.”
Southwestern will have time to prepare for its next two games. The Spartans are at Waldron (0-1) Friday before hosting Oldenburg Academy Saturday.
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