Junction City High School girls’ basketball coach hopes for continued improvement

Junction City High School girls’ basketball team scrimmage in November.

The Lady Jays lost 12-62 to Seaman in their season opener, leading them to reevaluate the team’s offense.

Junior Mariah Jeter got to the free-throw line after getting fouled shooting a three-pointer. Jeter came through at the line, as she made all three to get the Lady Jays to 10 points with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter. That was about the main bright part of the game for Junction City as offensive struggles affected them throughout the game.

After losing most scorers on the team from last season, Junction City is in search of offensive production, which showed in the season opener against Seaman Friday, as only 12 points was scored.

“We knew coming into this year we were going to struggle to score,” head coach Tim Testa said. “We graduated a lot of our scoring.”

But with how much the Blue Jays struggled offensively against the Vikings, Junction City was able to make some shots and reach double figures to give the team some kind of spark going forward.

“We saw the ball go through the basket a few times and it made us feel a little bit better,” Testa said. “We go to the free throw line and got some easy buckets that way. We are going to have to find a way to score or we are going to lose a lot of games.”

Testa said, beginning in practice, the team needs to do better going forward to see better results.

“I think we need to practice better, and hopefully that equates to games,” Testa said. “We got to do a lot of things different, and I have to be better as a coach for us to have a chance to put some more points on the board.”

Along with a search for improved offensive production, the Lady Jays are in search for better defense as well.

“We can not give up 60 points,” Testa said. “We keep that up and we are going to lose all (our games).”

After zero wins in Testa’s first season three years ago, the girls’ basketball program improved each season, with three wins two years ago and seven wins last season. Testa hopes the opener isn’t a sign of heavy losses the rest of the season.

Junction City has three seniors this year, and their leadership will be looked upon this season.

“(The three seniors) have grown a lot,” Testa said. “They do not light up the stats very much. None of the three seniors are go-to type players, but they have done a great job of helping me build the program over these first two years and obviously into the third year. We look to them to a lot of leadership. We look to them to kind of help guide the younger girls and make them better.”

Testa said the project of building up the program has been about establishing the importance of wanting to play for the name of the jersey on the court.

“We just came in as a coaching staff and just made the girls care more about basketball,” Testa said. “Obviously it is fun when you are winning but having fun throughout the day and just being kind to the girls and making them enjoy us as coaches. And then we can expect more out of them. I think we can expect more out of them if they know we care about them as people, too.”

Testa said two key players this season are sophomores Ava Deguzeman and Sarah Rexrode. Testa said he will have a lot of weight on Deguzeman this season.

“(Deguzeman) is our best athlete in pretty much every single sport that she chooses to play,” Testa said. “We are going to need her to score and rebound and defend the other team’s best player pretty much every game.”

Rexrode will be a powerful presence inside the paint, he said.

“Rexrode is going to be our anchor inside,” Testa said. “She has got great development so far in the first two years as a high school player. She got to play some varsity last year as a freshman.”

Even after losing a strong senior class from last season and losing the first game of the season, Testa thinks there is potential.

“I am really confident in our girls,” Testa said. “Just because right now we don’t know exactly who we are, doesn’t mean we don’t have good pieces. It is just my job as the coach to put those pieces together in the right spots. We aren’t a young team; we are just inexperienced in varsity basketball. A lot of our girls played junior varsity basketball last year. A few of them played some significant varsity minutes, (but) again we graduated so many girls that were so productive for us it is probably going to take us a couple of games to get our feet yet. But if that is all it takes, I am excited to see the product on the other side.”

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