PITSBURG – Franklin Monroe will be challenged during the 2015-16 girls basketball season by inexperience and a lack of depth.
New head coach Abbey Moore inherits a team with just nine healthy players, including only one senior, and will not have a junior varsity team this season. Despite the obstacles, Moore has been encouraged by the Lady Jets’ attitudes as they prepare for the upcoming season.
“That was probably one of my worries coming in was our experience,” Moore said. “From what these girls have shown me, I don’t think that’s going to be a big issue because I’ve got a lot of girls that want to be leaders on the floor. That is one of the most important things in a team sport is having leaders on the floor, and I have several girls that are willing to step up and fill that role.”
Moore, who is in her second year as a health and physical education teacher at Franklin Monroe, previously served as the head coach of Arcanum’s girls golf team and as an assistant coach for the Arcanum girls basketball team. The Franklin Monroe alumna is excited to be back in Pitsburg and leading her own basketball program.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to lead my own program, and I feel privileged to be here. Franklin Monroe is a great school. Graduating from here, I think it means a little bit more to me. I have pride in this school. It just means a lot to be back here, and I want to bring that pride and that attitude back and that competitiveness.”
The Lady Jets’ new coach already is seeing some of the fire she wants from her young squad.
“That’s a tough one for me coming here and not having the numbers,” Moore said. “But I’m going to take it, and I’m going to turn it into a positive. These nine girls that I have they are some of the hardest working, most coachable kids that I’ve ever been around.”
Helping to lead the way for FM is the team’s lone senior, Carrie Baker, who returns to the basketball court after not playing last year.
“She’s showing a lot of leadership coming back and taking that role,” Moore said of the senior guard being a leader for Franklin Monroe.
The Jets have three juniors in center Hannah Eley, guard Allyson Masterson and forward/center Brittany McNutt.
Forward Alison Armstrong, forward Kinsey Goins, guard/forward Tara Goubeaux and guard Danielle McVey will play as sophomores for the Jets. A fifth sophomore, forward/center Josie Miller, will miss the season with a knee injury.
Guard Kennedy Morris is Franklin Monroe’s lone freshman.
“Numbers are a struggle this year,” Moore said. “I’ve got nine girls who are able to play. That’s a struggle numbers-wise in practice and in game situations. But I told these girls that we’ve got to overcome adversity, and that’s one of our main adversities that we’re going to overcome.”
In the Jets’ quest to get ready for the season, they’ve gone back to basics. They’re not setting long-term goals, Moore said, and instead are laying a foundation and will set benchmarks as the season progresses.
“We’re starting at the beginning of the year, first couple weeks, we’re spending a lot of time on fundamentals, going over what it is I want, my expectations,” she said. “My first year as a head coach and I kind of got to lay that foundation.”
Moore hasn’t set a starting lineup yet, but with just nine players on the roster there will be opportunities for all of them to contribute in her aggressive scheme.
“With nine girls, the opportunity is there for everybody,” Moore said.
While she knows a tough road lies ahead, Moore is very encouraged by the progress she’s seen from her team and is looking forward to the 2015-16 season.
“From day one of practice this year to now the improvement that I’ve seen has been great,” she said. “I’m just looking to continue that throughout the year.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.