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It was a good opening run for StevensPosted Thursday, February 10, 2011, at 4:53 PM
BICKNELL -- The first year of Eastern Greene girls basketball under new head coach Zack Stevens came to a crashing halt Tuesday night at the hands of North Knox.
The Lady Warriors avenged a regular-season 50-47 loss on Jan. 8 with a 46-37 victory of their own on home turf during the IHSAA Class 2A Sectional 45 first round.
But just because the season didn't end with a sectional title, it doesn't mean it wasn't a successful year.
As a whole, the Lady Thunderbirds won four more games than last year and finished with a winning record for the first time since they went 13-8 in the 2004-05 season.
Their 13-10 final regular season record included a 6-2 Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference mark and a second place tie with Bloomfield in the standings.
They had a season-best five-game winning streak that was part of a string of eight wins in their first 10 contests.
As a team they averaged 47.5 points per game during the year and gave up an average of 46.6 points.
It was a team that was anchored by a core of seniors that included Sydney Spice, Mikaela New, Cora Sherfield, Alexis Ray and Samantha Reed -- a group that their coach says will find success no matter what the future holds in store for them.
"Our seniors have put in a lot of hard work and dedication over the years," Stevens said. "They had a lot of challenges they've faced and they've tamed those challenges as a team -- so they're going to be successful at whatever they do."
Stevens credited his seniors for taking a leadership role and becoming mentors to the younger girls that will carry on the tradition they've started.
"Our underclassmen have learned a lot from those girls and I'm very excited to see what they've learned and to see how much they retain from our seniors to see how they can grow too," he said. "My hat's off to our seniors for showing those young girls how to grow and things to improve on."
Part of the success of the program this year also goes to Stevens' own ability to adapt and learn on the fly.
And his ability to continue that learning as he himself gets more varsity experience under his coaching belt.
"I've learned a lot, every game I learned a lot and every day I learned a lot," he admitted after Tuesday's loss. "If I stop learning then I've failed and I learn every day. So for me it's another learning process, I'll get back to work here and keep going."
I also asked Stevens to evaluate his coaching skills now that the season has come to an end.
The first-year head coach grinned wide and thought for a moment about the question before answering.
Continuing the smile he noted that things have gotten better throughout the year, maybe not at as rapid a pace or with the leaps and bounds of success he might have imagined.
"The first game of the year was a good one (a 52-29 win on the road at Dugger) and game management is better now than it was before," he said. "I managed with foul trouble better and things like that. But there's still a lot of improvement and rating-wise I'm maybe a three or four."
Rick is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487 ext. 20. He can also be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
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