By Trent Friedel
The Saint Mary’s Tiger and Lady Tiger basketball teams are gearing up for another year of solid hard court action. The lady Tigers posted a record of 18 and 10 in 2016 and finished the season with a trip to the semi-finals. They only have three senior players on the squad but don’t let that fool you. Coach Tom Collins thinks his team will be a solid contender for a district title.
The projected starting lineup will be Sarah Gilmore, Makenzie Methvin, Maria Bienvenu, Ragan Hale and Emily Maggio. Coming off the bench to help the team will be Carrisa Kautz and Lexie Brossett and several others. The Lady Tigers have as many as four capable ball handlers and could pose a match up problem for some teams. Methvin is a formidable outside threat and Gilmore can dribble drive the lane and score. They will need solid post play and defense from some younger Tigers to do well. The Lady Tigers start the season with some tough non-district competition and tournament play that Coach Collins hopes will prepare them for district and beyond. When you add some eighth graders to this roster, it swells to as many as 21 players.
Third year men’s coach, Jason Kern, is excited about the potential of his group. The Tigers went 19 and 10 last season, an improvement from a disappointing 9 and 18 the previous year. Last year’s squad won district and made it to the second round of the playoffs. The Tigers retain Aaron Howell, first team all district, as well as Bailey Shelton and Jared Elie, second team all district. This summer was a productive period for the Tigers. They participated in a summer league and obviously hit the weight room. Patrick Walker, Jared Elie and Thomas Howell all attended a highly touted summer camp in Iowa in preparation for this season.
The men, like the ladies, also have four good ball handlers that can make baskets from anywhere on the floor. Walker, Shelton and Bankston all shot better than 30 percent last year from three point range. The projected starting five will be Bailey Shelton, Aaron Howell, Patrick Walker, Jared Elie and Thomas Howell. Thomas, only a sophomore, stands 6 feet, 7 inches and is solidifying his play in the paint. His tough low post play will likely force teams to double team him. When they do, expect the other Tigers to pounce. Parker Bankston will be in contention for a starting spot and Wes Manuel will provide quality bench minutes for the team. Look for good things for this Tiger team that has had three years to learn Coach Kern’s scheme. The team will use set plays and action off of ball screens to attack a district that predominately runs zone defense.
Their season starts Nov. 28 with non-district competition. Coach Kern will have to wait until the football season concludes to gain all his players. District action starts on the road at Block Dec. 18 for both ladies and men.