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Whitney girls, better basketball through team chemistry

Coach Carter uses team strengths
By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Coming off a 13-15 year, the Whitney High girls basketball team has definite plans of not only turning that around, but of contending for the Capital Athletic League title – and for good reason. One big reason is first-year head coach Andy Carter. As an assistant coach for the Wildcats, he’s not new to the team, but his approach as a head coach is. He is instituting a new offense he’s gleaned from studying the programs at Pepperdine and Stanford universities. Carter said he has taken parts of both programs and melded them into the strength of his team. He’s also put a lot of effort into team bonding and teamwork. “Overall, better team chemistry,” Carter said as to what he sees this year as different from previous years. “I don’t think there’s one adjective that describes this team. I think what I’m striving for is togetherness, and with that comes success.” That sentiment is reflected in the attitudes of his players. Returning junior point guard Kristin Ladas sees good things coming from this season’s Wildcats. Ladas averaged 10.5 points a game last year, and was solid beyond the 3-point arc. “This team from last year has a lot better chemistry than the previous two teams,” said the three-year varsity player. “This year, all of us are friends on and off the court and we just have fun with each other when we’re playing.” Although this year’s team doesn’t have a lot of tall players, the one they have is poised to have a great year. At 6-foot, 2-inches, Masirah Holmes has been working hard to use her height to the team’s advantage. She has plenty of experience, having played post since she was in the third grade. Holmes also used “chemistry” to describe the team, and said she’s been developing both her shooting and rebounding skills. The offense Carter has instilled also creates better utilization of the frontcourt. “People aren’t expecting to see what they’re going to see,” Holmes said of the Wildcats, “but we’re ready to give them a good game. We’re really confident in our abilities this year.” Returning for her fourth year with Whitney basketball is Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez can play both inside, and on the perimeter. Rodriguez also averaged in double figures last year, and is also accurate shooting treys. She’s also strong under the boards. She likes the offense coach Carter has them using, and feels it will improve the team’s movement. She feels it will also open up the club’s ability to score. “I think our offense is going to be really fast paced,” said Rodriguez, “and, hopefully, we’re going to be able to score easily. I’m just really excited for the season. Ladas said the team is also working on mastering a one-two-two press. A press can open up greater opportunities for scoring, but it also requires a lot of energy. However, Carter said he has a lot of confidence in his bench. He said he wouldn’t know which players were going to have the hot hand each night, but that they’re all capable of stepping up when called upon. He said a couple of his players are working through injuries, and one has been lost because of a torn ACL. When practicing, the Wildcats seem loose and relaxed. But the intensity of this year’s club is evident. Carter feels this team is going to be exciting to watch. “I think we’re going to be a lot of fun to watch this year,” said Carter, “and I hope to see a lot of people come out and support us.” Whitney girls basketball is scheduled to open their season, Nov. 29, hosting the Lodi Flames.