Freshmen a welcome addition to Cat squad
De Soto girls basketball coach Dwight Spencer said you can always expect some freshmen to help, and this season he anticipated one. Even he didn't figure on getting help from two different freshmen this season, however.
Tami Crow and Kelsey Fisher have both played major roles in De Soto's season, and Spencer said the help is more than welcome.
"Both these kids really pick things up quickly," Spencer said. "They want to do everything you tell them. It's been great and they've both really helped."
A jump on development makes playing freshman girls much more likely than freshman boys, Spencer said. With that in mind, he always tries to keep an eye on what's coming up using summer camps, junior high leagues and word of mouth.
He expected Kelsey Fisher to earn her minutes.
Quick with her first step, accurate at long range and solid with the basketball, Fisher fit right in.
"She's really helped us as far as handling the ball goes," Spencer said. "Her defense has been better than I anticipated. She does need to get rid of her fouls, but she is a freshman -- sometimes I forget that."
At 5-foot-6, Fisher is among the taller Wildcats, but Spencer said it's her speed and up-tempo nature that's allowed her to see the floor so early in her career.
Paired with senior guard Kira Gonzalez, Fisher has been able to push the pace up the floor.
She put together what was probably her best game Jan. 9 as the Cats traveled to Spring Hill. De Soto lost the game, but Fisher hit her first 3-pointer of the season to give De Soto a 22-20 second- quarter lead. She got on the board again to open the second half, erasing a two-point deficit to tie the game at 26.
She scored again later, racing down the floor after a Gonzalez steal, fielding the pass and laying it in.
"She played extremely well (against Spring Hill)," Spencer said. "She's been solid for us, but that was probably her most productive game.
"She gets better every day."
Perhaps no play individually summed up what the pair has come to mean to the team more than one late in the Spring Hill game.
De Soto trailed 49-42 and the offense had gotten stagnate until Fisher relayed the ball ahead to Crow for a fast break layup.
It wasn't enough as De Soto was outscored 21-9 in the fourth quarter, but it was a glimpse, Spencer said -- a glimpse of potential he hadn't exactly expected this season.
Crow was the surprise, he said. Two inches shorter than Fisher, she has still had no trouble finding her way to the basket. She's been outscored this season only by three seniors: Gonzalez, Jackie Goleman and Kaylee Spencer.
She's used a quick and accurate 3-pointer trigger to earn minutes and is third on the team with five treys.
"She's been a surprise because she's not physically quite as strong or played quite as much as Kelsey," Spencer said, "but her skills, her skills are very good. They're outstanding as far as shooting and handling the ball.
"I knew she'd help, but I didn't anticipate her getting so many minutes. There's been nights when we've come away saying she's one of our best players."
The varsity squad's third freshman, Katie Williams, has also shined in her minutes on the floor. She scored 13 points in the team's first game of the year.
One thing to really take comfort in, Spencer said -- he's not seeing turnovers from the group. The team has lost its last three games and turnovers have played a big part in that, he said.
The freshmen have been the culprits at times, but not nearly to the degree to which their inexperience would seem to dictate. Given a few more weeks of the season and the added experience that will bring, Spencer said there's plenty to be excited about in his youngest players.
"Our freshmen have had games where they've turned it over, but they're not leading us in turnovers," Spencer said. "They're learning and I can see it all the time."