Atchison girls better this year
The Atchison High girls have already won more games this season than they did last year, and enter the Tonganoxie Invitational with a 3-2 record under the guidance of first-year head coach Roni Ettleman, who served as an AHS assistant coach for three years before taking over the program this season.
Although Ettleman wasn’t sure how tough Atchison’s draw would be at the 2009 tourney, the coach said nothing will come easy.
“I know that the games have always been good, competitive games,” Ettleman said of Tonganoxie Invitational matchups.
AHS features a balanced attack. Atchison has had four different players score in double figures so far this season.
The team is led by Lillian Cooper, a force on the inside who is averaging a double-double with 13 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots per game.
Senior point guard Tiffani Gassmann has pleased her coach with her ability to set the table for the Atchison offense. It is Gassmann’s responsibility to keep AHS running smoothly and scoring points.
On the wing, Ettleman said junior Courtney Calhoon and sophomore Kaitlyn Underwood are both starting to develop and mature into good scoring options.
Sophomore Alanna Downing is the fifth member of the AHS starting five. Her coach said she provides “a steady and consistent presence everywhere on the court.”
With a young team featuring just two seniors, invitational fans watching Atchison should expect to see a group of young players who are developing as a unit.
Ettleman said playing three games in six days at the tournament wouldn’t be anything new for the young squad, which played three times the first week back from winter break. But, the coach added, the resiliency of his youngsters might get tested at Tonganoxie.
“Playing that many games in a week is always a test of your conditioning,” Ettleman said. “We are a young team that is only seven or eight players deep, so it is a little tricky keeping everyone fresh and focused for the game.”