Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of previews of area high school girls basketball teams.
BURGIN — In one sense, you could say that nothing has changed with the Burgin girls. In another sense, however, that isn’t quite true.
It is true that the players who will do the heavy lifting for Burgin are an experienced lot, with a good working knowledge of coach Chris Myers’ system and well-established roles within it.
But the one new thing they’ll be asked to do might make all the difference in how successful the Bulldogs can be this season. All of the team’s veterans will be asked to fill in the gap, statistically and otherwise, left by the departure of leading scorer and rebounder Shavon Majors, one of two seniors on last year’s 13-19 team that reached the 12th Region Tournament for the second straight year.
Majors averaged more than 16 points and nine rebounds, and Myers knows he doesn’t have anyone who can add those kids of numbers to what they were already contributing. So he’s each of them to take on just a little bit of the load.
“None of them are capable of improving their scoring average by 16 points. Each one of them collectively is capable of improving three or four points, so that’s really all we’re asking them to do, to improve their offensive game, their offensive output two, three, four points to pick up the slack,”¿Myers said.
The girls at the receiving end of that request are already a step ahead, Myers said, because they already know what they’re doing.
“It helps,” Myers said. “When we’re not trying to install players and we’re not trying to install different defensive systems and we alreayd know that, we can focus on fundamentals and smaller things. The experience is nice.”
Burgin’s top returning scorer and rebounder is forward-guard Taylor Sanders, one of the team’s four seniors and a three-year starter. Sanders took more 3-point shots than anyone on the team last year, but she can also operate in the paint.
“She’s always been a pretty good shooter, and she may play some in the post for us. She’s undersized, but she moves her feet well, and she can create a little bit of a matchup problem,” Myers said.
In the backcourt, the Bulldogs feature a trio of guards, seniors Randi Burke and Liz Marcinek and junior Summer Burke. All will be expected to increase their contributions on offense, and Myers said Marcinek and Summer Burke’s work on defense places them in the ranks of some of the best guards in the region.
Back on the inside, senior center-forward Libby Dismeaux has improved “leaps and bounds” during her time in the program, according to Myers, and she’ll be rewarded for that with a larger role and more responsbility. Myers said he also hopes to get a full season’s worth of work from junior Emilee Hurt, a 6-0 junior whose last two seasons have been shortened due to surgeries on both knees.
“Libby’s worked her tail off every year, and she’ll get an opportunity this year to see how that pays off. (Hurt has)¿been in the program since she was an eighth-grader, but we’ve never seen a full year out of her because she always had a knee injury,” Myers said.
The Bulldogs’ remaining senior, forward Tessa Perez, hasn’t played as much as the others, but Myers said her leadership in the locker room has been invaluable, using Dick Vitale’s terminology to call her “a glue girl.”
Keys to the Season
Burgin doesn’t have a singular star that opponents have to stop, but what it does have is a number of players who do the same things well. Myers said he thinks that could serve the Bulldogs well and create matchup problems for opponents if they well if they play as a team.
“It’s something we’ve talked about:¿We have to play team basketball,” he said. “We’re going to have to take advantage of some matchups. On the perimeter, we’re all essentially the same player. They’re all guards, they all shoot the ball well, they can all get to the basket. We’re going to try to tak advantage (of that). Maybe they’ll be able to guard our best, maybe then can guard our second-best, but maybe they can’t guard our third-best.”
Players to Watch
Myers said while Randi Burke, Summer Burke and Marcinek have played alongside Majors, they have also played somewhat in her shadow, and he said he thinks they’ll do much more this year.
“We’re guard oriented and we play that way, but those three have kind of deferred to Shavon for the last four years, and I really think those three are going to come out of their shell and really shine,” Myers said.
Sophomore Zena Baez took 13 shots and scored all of 12 points last season, but Myers indicated that she’ll have the chance to take a few more shots this year.
“She’s worked really hard, and early on she’ll get an opportunity to prove herself. She shoots the ball as well as anybody we have, but she just doesn’t have the experience,” Myers said.
Majors left with exactly one-third of the Bulldogs’ rebounds last season, and Myers said he isn’t sure where those rebounds will come from.
“Rebounding scares me to death. Shavon carried the lion’s share of the rebounding last year, and with her graduating, Emilee and Libby are going to have to step up and clean the glass. We’re undersized, and if I¿have teams that scare me, it’s teams that outsize us,” he said.
Top Returning Players
Randi Burke, 5-8 Jr. G, 5.9p, 2.9r
Summer Burke, 5-4 Jr. G, 3.6p, 1.8r
Libby Dismeaux, 5-9 Jr. C-F, 1.4p, 2.0r
Liz Marcinek, 5-7 Sr., G, 6.1p, 3.0r
Taylor Sanders, 5-8 Jr. F-G, 7.5p, 5.0r