Okmulgee County News Source

Front, L-R: Head Coach Kolby Johnson, Fr. Audrie Billie, Fr. Kyla Fixico, and Fr. Sydney King. Middle, L-R: So. Molly Frye, Sr. Kyra Najera, Fr. Macey Webb, Fr. Maddi Gouge, and Fr. Rachel Montgomery. Back, L-R: Jr. Hanna Gouge, Jr. MyKaela Wallace, Sr. Alissa Taylor, Jr. Andrea Hamric, and So. Addison Ellis.

Lady Knights lean on experience in 2013

The 2013-2014 Lady Knights will put their hopes in the strength of their experience in an attempt to hurdle the Area Tournament and make their first ever trip to the Big Dance this season. With three returning starters from last season’s team that went to the Area Semi-finals, the Lady Knights will be locked and loaded for run at Head Coach Kolby Johnson’s sixth straight Area Tournament, and hopefully a trip to the State Tournament.
The Lady Knights return three starters from a year ago, including their leading scorer, senior Alissa Taylor. Alissa is a three year starter for the Lady Knights, and according to Johnson is the emotional leader of this team.
“Alissa is like having another coach on the floor at all times. She is the one that picks the team up when they are down and gets them fired up. She has really established herself as a clear cut leader in a positive way. She has an excellent grasp of our system and of what we are trying to do; sometimes she even knows what I am going to say in the huddle before I say it because she knows the system so well. She is a special kind of player.”
Joining Taylor as returning starters are  juniors Andrea Hamric and Mykaela Wallace, as well as junior Hanna Gouge, who started several games last season; together they will  help form the backbone of the Lady Knights’ team this season. Sophomore Addison Ellis will likely be the fifth starter this season, and despite lacking varsity experience, Johnsons says that she has been in the system for three years and has an excellent understanding of the offensive and defensive scheme. Senior Kyra Najera will also play a key role off the bench for the Lady Knights. Najera has been in the system for four years, and Johnson says that she understands the schemes on both sides of the court.
There are a handful of talented newcomers this year that will play a big role for the Lady Knights. Freshman Maddi Gouge, Macy Webb, and Audrie Billie will all three vie for playing time this season, and will give crucial minutes in support. Also contributing off the bench this season will be freshman Rachel Montgomery, Sydney King, and Kyla Fixaco.
The Lady Knights’ strength will be their experience in the system, according to Johnson. “We are very sound in our offense and on the defensive scheme,” Johnson says. “Four out of Five starters have played in the Area Tournament every year of their high school careers, and all of our girls have been in this system since junior high.”
The weakness for the Lady Knights this season will have to be their depth. The Lady Knights will have an obvious lack of varsity experience on the bench, with three of the first four girls off the bench being freshman; Johnson however is optimistic, citing that the girls have played in the system, and they know the system, they will just have to get used to the faster pace of the high school game as opposed to junior high. He says that the freshman have looked good in the scrimmages so far.
Johnson is in his sixth season as the Head Coach of the Lady Knights, and each year the Lady Knights have ended their season in the Area Tournament. This season, according to Johnson, there a about four legitimate state tournament teams in 3A, and he feels like his team has an excellent chance to be one of the eight teams to transcend to the Big Show this year.
“It is our goal to get to State,” Johnson said. “We have always used the regular season as a preparation for the postseason. We play a tough schedule, where each and every night is a challenge, in order to get ready for the playoffs.”
The Lady Knights open the season December 3rd at home against Savanna. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m.