By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
It’s virtually unheard of that a basketball team lose 10 starters all in the same year, but that’s just the situation coach Gary Beals and his Choctaw County High School Lady Panthers are facing.
CCHS is in its first year of existence after the consolidation of Weir and Ackerman High School. “We lost every starter off both of those teams,” Beals said. “We are very young. We have one junior and one senior and the rest are sophomores and freshmen.”
While things may be tough as the season begins, Beals said his squad has some talent and he looks for improvement as the season moves along.
“Basketball season is a marathon, not a sprint,” Beals said. “The girls are showing up and working real hard. We have a chance to take some big steps during the season.”
One of those Beals will be counting on is Tiara Conner, the lone senior on the team.
“She played a lot last year, she was one of the top subs,” Beals said. “We are looking for good senior leadership out of her.”
Beals said there are so many girls battling for playing time that it’s hard to mention them all. He did note that Starkville transfer Niquya Gardner will see action at both the No. 1 and No. 2 guard spots, as will Kierra Fair. “They will rotate a lot between those two positions,” he said.
Haley Lampard and Tootie Cheaton are both being looked at to provide some playing time at guard, while freshman Shay Alston is showing potential on the inside.
“Her motor never stops,” Beals said of Alston. “She has good size and will be a pretty good ball player by the time she leaves here.”
The Lady Chargers are set to open the 2013-14 season Saturday at 11 a.m. against Durant in the Ethel Classic. CCHS will then host Montgomery County in girls and boys matchups on Nov. 19.