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by Mark Cheffey
Timothy Southers said he has already been a big fan of the PHS girls basketball team, and is now excited to take over as head coach.
Southers, an experienced high school girls and college women’s basketball coach served as assistant boys coach last season under Coach Brian Rea, who told him before hand, “wait ‘til you see the girls team here.”
“And, I did, and I knew what he was talking about. They were very fun to watch, and I was just a fan in the stands,” said Southers, who then applied for the position when it came open and got it.”
And, now, after taking the girls to summer camps and building relationships with the players, Southers said his fandom was for good reason.
“They’re special,” he said as the team prepared for the start of the season.
“They’ve loved everything I’ve tried to teach them, and the style of play,” he said. “They like the upbeat style. We’re going to be a fast-break type of team, up and down the floor. We’re going to press defensively. We’re going to get after you a little bit. And they’re really enjoying it.
Last year’s team went 19-8 before falling to South Shelby in the district semifinals, and almost all the key players from that squad are back including the lone senior, Abbey Redd, who Southers sees as one of the team’s leaders.
“She’s tough. She’s the point on defense,” said Southers who considers her to be “by far” the best defender on the team.
Leading at the other end of the court will be Clare Williams, a sophomore, who Southers has tabbed as the point guard.
“She’ll run the show for us. She’ll be like our deejay and get the music started,” he said, noting Williams can shoot the ball, while playing with a high basketball IQ.
Williams made a super freshman tandem last season with Sydney Compton, who Southers also expects big things from after getting a year of experience under her belt.
“She is a tremendous athlete and can do anything on the court,” Southers said. “She can take the ball to the basket. She has moves. She can shoot it off the dribble. We just have to keep her out of foul trouble.
And, then there is Candra King, a junior, ready to take charge in the paint.
“She is just dynamite at post,” Southers said. “She can also hit a three, which is great to have. I’ve never had a post player who has shot as well as she has.”
But, her main job will be to get physical inside.
“She loves to mix it up down low,” Southers said. “I think you’ll see a lot more blocked shots from her and from Sydney as well.”
Also starting will be Taytum White, a junior, who Southers looks to step up and contribute offensively.
“Her shot has been looking tremendous,” he said. “She’s feeling out the basket and is tougher than she was last year.”
And, while Southers feels he has five well-defined starters, that doesn’t mean important minutes will not be doled out to the rest of the squad.
He believes he has some depth with juniors Ashley Bode, Alaina Loman, Bella McBride, Avery Compton and Jaelyn Chandler, along with Kaitlyn Bode, a freshman, ready to contribute when needed.
Rounding out the high school roster are sophomores, Chloe Chamberlain and Madison Fessenden, and freshmen, Caydence Deming, Ava Fohey and Jerzey Ramey.
Souther’s said his basketball philosophy is defense first.
“Everything we do starts with defense, so we’re going to be a team that really gets after it this year,” Southers said.
Being physical is an important aspect of that, too, and Southers believes his team has really improved in that area after getting labeled as soft last year.
“I don’t think they’ll be able to say that this year,” Southers said.
After getting through the pre-holiday gauntlet and the January tournaments, Southers said he hopes the team will be ready to take on the all-important conclusion of the season and reach goals they have set, including a 20-win season, getting a shot at winning a districts title and who knows from there.
“We have high expectations for the year, of course, but there are some things we want to get before we get to Springfield,” Southers said.
This season’s districts were announced Friday, and Palmyra was placed in Class 3, District 6 along with Clark County, Highland, Mark Twain, Monroe City and South Shelby.
Helping Southers this season are assistant coaches Tanner Adams, Kaitlin Benson and Nicole Kroeger.
The Lady Panthers were to start the season at home, Tuesday, against Elsberry. Results were unavailable for this issue.
11/14 Mexico Jamboree
11/29 at Mark Twain
12/2 at Canton
12/5-10 M.C. Tournament
12/17 at Clark Co.
12/20 at Louisiana
1/2-7 Highland Tourn.
1/10 at Kirksville
1/16-21 Lenzini Tourn.
1/27 at Macon
1/31 Clark County
2/3 at South Shelby
2/7 Monroe City
2/9 at Bowling Green
2/17 at Highland
2/20-25 Districts TBA