Upset Alert: Lady Wildcats hope to surprise onlookers this season
The Plano Senior girls basketball team has been waiting for the start of the 2012-13 season since, well, the end of its 2011-12 campaign.
Spirits were high in February when a Lady Wildcats squad that battled through the peaks and valleys of growing pains came within a hairline of upsetting state-ranked Southlake Carroll in the bi-district playoffs.
Nine months later, Plano looks to pick up where it left off.
"I felt like that game propelled us into a great spring," said Lynn Meger, Plano head coach. "My girls worked really hard over the spring and summer and I think we have a good, seasoned group coming back this year."
The Carroll game is salient because the Lady Wildcats return seven players from last season, four of whom started against the Lady Dragons.
The veteran core of seniors Wilma Afunugo, Grace Mitchell and Haley Wray are at the forefront of Plano's experience back in tow. Afunugo and Mitchell are verbally committed to Seattle and Missouri-Kansas City, respectively. Afunugo led the Lady Wildcats in both scoring (10.7 points per game) and rebounding (7.1) last season and, alongside Mitchell, will see her role expand even further this season given the development of the Plano frontcourt.
"Our posts are more experienced than they were last year," Meger said, "so I think you'll see a little more post play than last year."
Senior Lucy Gentry, verbally committed to play at Air Force, will also figure into the equation down low this season as well junior Ogo Obinabo, whom Meger described as a "dark-horse post player." With both standing 6-foot-1, Gentry and Obinabo are among several Lady Wildcats whose size contrasts with their District 10-5A adversaries.
"We're not quite as quick as some teams in the district, but we're bigger than they are," Meger said. "We don't match Plano West or Plano East's speed in all spots, but they don't match our size."
What speed the Lady Wildcats do bring to the table can be found in the background between Wray and sophomore Kara Mitchell, Plano's top two passers from last season.
"Haley grew up a lot last year and showed some tremendous growth at point guard," Meger said. "Kara is very quick, gives us some speed and we're excited about how far she has come along too."
Junior Kylee Guthrie will be tasked with providing instant offense for the backcourt.
A 3-point threat by trade, Guthrie was called up to Plano's varsity late last season and provided valuable minutes in the Carroll loss.
While stylistically similar in personnel, Plano figures to increase the usage of its frontcourt while Meger said much of the team's success this season will hinge on the development of the guards and a widespread offensive attack.
"I think the girls have put in the time and this year, it'll be a total team effort," Meger added. "I don't think you're going to see one person always be our leading scorer and it'll change every night. We're going to be the epitome of team play."
At the heart of it all, Plano expects to carve out its niche on the defensive end.
"Our defense is going to be our strength," Meger said, "and, if the offense comes along at the same rate, I think we can compete for a playoff spot and maybe even the district title."
The building blocks for that conquest have already taken form, with the Lady Wildcats opening the season Tuesday with a 62-41 thumping of Rowlett. Plano spent the weekend competing in the Frisco ISD Tip-Off Classic as part of a non-district schedule that includes matchups against state-ranked opposition in Carroll (No. 5 according the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches), Sachse (No. 17) and Celina (No. 12 in Class 3A).
"I'm super excited about getting on the floor and just seeing what they can do together," Meger said. "It's exciting as a fan to watch people who give it their all. We're going to try to upset some people and make a name for ourselves this year."
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