No mystery shrouds girls team’s plans
There's no need for deception. The De Soto girls basketball team will lean heavily on the exact same two weapons it relied upon last season -- points leaders Kira Gonzalez and Jackie Goleman.
The pair led the Wildcats in points and rebounds and were major factors in the team's winning record.
The Cats finished the 2005-2006 basketball season 11-10, and coach Dwight Spencer said it's no secret -- if they're going to do better in 2006-2007, it'll be Goleman and Gonzalez that lead the way.
"Obviously those two have been our best scorers in the past, and I'm sure they will be again this year," Spencer said. "It's what we surround them with. I think we'll be pretty good -- we had a really good summer."
Goleman, a 5-foot-11 junior led the team in both points and rebounds, and really enjoyed a breakout season a year ago. She had 8.5 rebounds a game, scored 14.9 points, had a career high 29 in a key win over Spring Hill and pushed her average up to 24.3 over the late-season five-game winning streak that allowed the team to finish on the right side of .500.
Goleman -- who went on to win a Class 4A state championship in high jump in the spring, and led the volleyball team in kills this fall -- is still tall. She's still fast, and she can still be a force under the basket, Spencer said.
So, she'll still be a key cog in the Cats offense.
"Jackie just keeps getting better," Spencer said. "She hasn't played as much basketball as Kira, but she's always done everything I ask of her.
"She can do anything she wants to. She is so athletic. You just don't have very many 5-11 kids that are that athletic."
Gonzalez, meanwhile, continued a steady career last season, and should be in position to cap it off with her best season yet, Spencer said.
They literally don't come much more experienced -- Gonzalez is a four-year starter for the varsity team, and still spends a good percentage of her waking moments with a basketball in her hand.
She averaged 10.2 points a game last year, and gathered 5.4 rebounds, despite spending most of her minutes on the perimeter as a guard.
"Kira's been playing competitively since she was in fourth or fifth grade and has been playing tournaments in the summer, and this year she's in the best shape she's ever been in," Spencer said.
No matter where the Cats go, those two will lead the way, but Spencer was quick to point out that the destination won't be very far at all if the duo doesn't get some help.
First up in that category is junior Kayla Bader.
Bader is the only other Wildcat returning with significant starting time, and while she doesn't have as much as Goleman or Gonzalez, she started throughout her sophomore season and offers a unique way to help the team, Spencer said.
She had several big games points-wise a year ago, but was far from consistent in putting the ball in the basket. Rather, she'll be the team's leader when it comes to on-the-ball defense.
"Whatever points we get from Kayla are really just a bonus," Spencer said. "You have another experienced varsity player, and she gives us great defense. She'll be our main ball defender and she'll take the point guard in every game."
Beyond that, Spencer said it's an open invitation for someone to step up.
Kaylee Spencer returns for her senior season, and could provide a spark, but didn't see a lot of varsity time last year. She lifted the team on several occasions as a 3-point specialist, but will have to be more complete.
Christina Davis and Lisbeth Rosales also are out for their senior seasons. Both have been with the program in years past, and will be essential in helping the team in the season to come.
"I'm not sure where it will come from, but there are a bunch of possibilities," Spencer said. "Hopefully Christina steps up and has a good year to take a little pressure off Jackie. After that Kaylee can shoot it well, and if she can handle it and play good defense she'll help us. Lisbeth has been in the program a long time, so she can help us out, too."
De Soto kicks off its season Dec. 4 with the first of a three-game tournament at Osawatomie. The Cats also play Dec. 6 and Dec. 8 in the tournament. The team's first home action is Dec. 19 against Tonganoxie.
"Right now, I think we'll be pretty competitive," Spencer said. "It's really hard to tell because we have a lot of kids that don't have many varsity minutes, but we do have Kira, Jackie and Kayla back who started for us, but after that, we don't have much experience."