As Ryan girls basketball coach Monesha Allen tallied up her list of injured players, she knew something was off. Surely she wouldn’t have five varsity players out of today’s District 5-5A opener against Flower Mound Marcus.
Allen was right; her math was off. She is going to be missing six players.
The Lady Raiders will be without more than half of their original varsity roster when 5-5A play opens at 6 tonight at Marcus.
Allen said her players will have to find confidence in each other and build chemistry to deal with the casualties.
“We’re going to have to basically believe in one another,” Allen said. “It’s almost like you’re in a state of shock. ‘We’ve lost who? We’ve lost her?’ And so, we have to rely on our strengths individually and put them together as a whole.”
The team’s varsity roster of 10 will be pushed to 14 for today’s game.
Senior guard Ayliah Frazier (concussion), junior center Tichina Coleman (concussion), freshman guard Julia Bridges (flu) and sophomore guard Sydney Lundgren (choir trip) will miss tonight’s game.
Earlier in the week, the Lady Raiders (5-11) received the services of senior forward Mariah Young, who was coming off an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Allen said Young practiced as if she was never absent.
The next day, Young suffered a knee injury and has been ruled out indefinitely, Allen said. Young is one of three seniors on a roster with one returning starter from last year’s playoff team — senior forward Carissa Sanders.
Coleman, Frazier and junior forward Morgan Davis all suffered injuries in a Friday, Dec. 13 loss to Plano. Davis broke her foot and underwent surgery to repair the injury.
“Once we found out that it was going to require surgery and she wasn’t coming back, that was another little dagger in my heart,” Allen said. “I just keep getting hit with all these daggers.”
Ryan senior forward Kimani Henderson said the ensuing game after the trio went out, a loss to Class 3A Krum, was tough because of the infusion of junior varsity players. Some of those players are on tonight’s roster.
Henderson said the team is lacking confidence and chemistry, complicating a season that was going to be difficult to begin with. The senior echoed her coach’s sentiments.
“I feel like we just have to come together and fight for it, because it’s not going to be easy,” Henderson said.
With four teams making the playoffs from each district, Ryan will only need to be better than two 5-5A teams to continue a playoff streak that stretches back to the 2006-07 season.
The Lady Raiders missed the postseason in 2004-05 and 2005-06, the two years Ryan was in Class 5A for the first time since the school opened in the early ’90s.
Last season, Ryan finished third in 5-5A and lost to Hurst Bell in the bi-district round of the playoffs. But the Raiders graduated point guard Teana Ogden, a four-year starter who initially went to Oral Roberts but is transferring to Texas Southern, Allen said.
The remaining guard on the roster, junior Ashtyn Lovett, will be with the team tonight after missing some time for personal reasons.
As for the team’s lone returning starter, the Ryan coach said Sanders’ passion on the soccer field translated well to the basketball court.
“What I like the most about her is that she’s a competitor,” Allen said. “You can ask her to take care of the ball — and we know that she’s not a ball-handler — but ‘I’ll do it, coach.’ You can ask her to play any position on the floor, and she’s going to 110 percent, full speed.”
It’s that attitude and chemistry Ryan will need if it hopes to continue its playoff streak and overcome all the injuries the team has suffered so far.
“It’s going to be a newfound chemistry, more or less, and believing in one another until we get whoever back,” Allen said. “I just don’t know when anybody is coming back and what they’re going to do because we’ve had a lot of inconsistencies.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.
Coach: Ami Neff (Ninth year as head coach, second at Coppell)
2012-13 record: 8-21 (2-8, T-fifth in district)
Players to watch: C Elena Grijalva, G Adiwu Nwaiwu, G Catie Galvin
HEBRON LADY HAWKS
Coach: Debra Manley (29th year as head coach, first at Hebron)
2012-13 record: 10-19 (2-8, T-fifth in district)
Players to watch: G Grace Pospichal, G Molly Pospichal, C Victoria Miller
FLOWER MOUND LADY JAGUARS
Coach: Sherika Nelson (Seventh year as head coach, all at Flower Mound)
2012-13 record: 25-9 (9-1, first in district)
Players to watch: C Lauren Cox, F Jessie Larson, G Kayla Mount
FLOWER MOUND MARCUS LADY MARAUDERS
Coach: Fred Jones (Third year as head coach, all at Marcus)
2012-13 record: 30-8 (8-2, second in district)
Players to watch: F Vanessa Jones, G Morgan Easley, G Ashley James
LEWISVILLE LADY FARMERS
Coach: Charlotte Jones (21st year as head coach, ninth year at Lewisville,)
2012-13 record: 6-25 (3-7, fourth in district)
Players to watch: G Monisha Neal, C Naomi Hawkins, C Bridgette Stephens
RYAN LADY RAIDERS
Coach: Monesha Allen (13th year as head coach, all at Ryan)
2012-13 record: 15-18 (6-4, third in district)
Players to watch: F Carissa Sanders, C Tichina Coleman, F Kimani Henderson