Lady Panthers play season-opener at Clear Creek tourney on Friday |

Lady Panthers play season-opener at Clear Creek tourney on Friday

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

The Lady Panthers of Middle Park High are ready to start another season of up-tempo basketball this week.

Middle Park’s hoopsters will be on the court Friday at Idaho Springs for the Clear Creek Tournament. They will play Colorado Academy in their season-opening games with the varsity playing at 5:30 p.m. and junior varsity at 7 p.m.

The Clear Creek Tournament, which features four teams, will continue Saturday. The game time and opponent that Middle Park will face depend upon Friday’s results.

Going into the team’s first games of the 2007-08 season, coach Cheri Amos is upbeat about her players.

“I really like the attitude and work level displayed by our girls in practice,” she said. “This has been the best start for a season in my four years coaching here. Our players have made up their minds that they want to play good basketball and are working hard.”

Amos describes the team as “young” after six Lady Panther seniors graduated last spring.

This season’s varsity squad will be led by its seniors Nicole Fuqua and Kathy Childress, who are both returning varsity players. Also providing leadership will be juniors Shelley McLean and Rachel Linke, who both had varsity playing time last season.

“These four players will be our leaders and will be critical to how well this team performs this season,” Amos said.

Also key to its performance will be the rest of the varsity roster who are all juniors ” Kristin Van Horn, Lindsey Birdseye, Emily Abbott, Katelyn Anderson, Brittnay Gardner, Mallory Nutting and Milly Varner.

“All 11 of our varsity players can be counted on to make a huge contribution in every game,” Amos said. “Our biggest positives are our mind set and our speed. Size-wise, we are small compared to other teams with our tallest player at 5 feet, 10 inches. But all of our girls are fast.”

The varsity’s game plan is being built around its speed, Amos explained.

“We plan to play a very up-tempo game with a strong defense,” she said. “We’ll be driving on the basket a lot, getting up to the foul line. Positioning will be critical because of our lack of size. And our defense, which has been getting stronger every year, is going to be major.”

Adding to the strength of this year’s team are the nine members of its junior varsity squad.

“Our three sophomores ” Lihla Clancy, Allie Gardner and Cindy Hobbs ” are real standouts and can be expected to be our JV leaders,” Amos said.

The six other junior varsity players are all freshmen ” Shelby Brueske, Janni Conrad, Lisa Hobbs, McCall Linke, Elise Matson and Quincey Pedersen.

“The work ethic on our entire team is so strong that it should pay dividends,” Amos said. “Our goal this season is to play it one game at a time and give it 100 percent effort from the start to the finish.”

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