Lady Tigers aim for playoffs again
The Lady Tigers return three starters from a 12-18 squad that jelled by the end of the season to earn the playoff spot.
However, there are story lines galore as the Lady Tigers pursue the 2013-14 season.
First, Alix Hoffman has transferred from Thorndale where she brings plenty of playoff experience. During her three years with the Lady Dogs, they played in the regional final the past two seasons.
The 6- foot- 2 Hoffman is a senior and averaged 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds last season an was a first-team all-district selction.
Her presence was escalated when starting center Shelby Evans decided not to play basketball in her senior year.
“Losing Shelby Evans leaves a void that will certainly impact us,” said Rockdale Coach Liz Galloway McQuitter, who begins her seventh season as head coach. “I wish her the best in her endeavors, and she knows how we all feel about her. This is when others have to step up to fill that void by collectively giving us what we will miss by not having Shelby.
“No one player can do it, but we have post players who can score, defend, and block shots, which were all of the things Shelby did.”
Hoffman has certainly made her scoring presence known in the Lady Tigers first two outings— both wins—with 35 combined points.
The Lady Tigers will also be without the services of another post player, Lexi Robertson, who decided to graduate early.
Another storyline is the health of Velma Mitchell.
After a sensational freshman season in which she averaged 15 points a game and was named the district newcomer of the year, Mitchell had surgery on her feet and it was obvious she was not the same player last season.
The 5-foot- 9 guard missed six games and her production dropped to 9.5 points a game.
“No Velma was not 100 per cent last year,” McQuitter said. “She is almost 100 per cent this year. She still has some pain with one foot and the other one is doing great. She is playing near to her old self though.”
The versatile Mitchell w ill move over to point guard where the Lady Tigers have struggled w ith turnovers the past t wo seasons.
While Mitchell was a sensation as a freshman, Dae Dae Robertson has followed in her footsteps. Despite her limited play and the fact that she did not start until late in the season, the energetic Robertson was named first-team all-district, averaging 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds a game.
She showed her potent ia l last season in a district contest against Taylor when she erupted for 19 points and 19 rebounds.
Roberston has also shot up to 5-foot-10 from 5-foot-6 last year.
“She is ready to pick up where she left off last season,” McQuitter said.
Forward Taylor Pickett and guard Emily Norris are two more returning starters to provide stability.
Rockdale will have the luxury of a deep bench this season with seniors Samantha Muston and Ansley Jenkins, juniors Jamiere McBride ( back in the program after a two year absence) and Ikeria Green and sophomores Jasia Rubin and Joli Carpenter whoareallcapableofstepping in at any time.
“I would not be surprised if you would see several different starting line ups all year due to the personnel we have,” McQuitter said. “We can go small and quick when that match up is called for, and we can go with three forward/post players and play a bigger line up.
“ My job is more d if f icu lt because we have a roster of 11 players and all of them will see minutes.”
That’s a good problem to have for a coach.
“It comes down to making your minutes count when you are in the game. If everyone will focus on performance and not on minutes, things will blend and the team will be successful.
The Lady Tigers have jumped out to a 2-0 start with wins over Rosebud-Lott (51-24) and Rogers (72-33) on Tuesday.
Against Rogers on the road, Hoffman led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds and was complemented by Mitchell’s 15 points, six assists and four steals.
McBride chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
The Lady Tigers outrebounded Rogers 52-22 and did not allow them an offensive board.
“ This group is seasoned and has good chemistry,” McQuitter said. “Maintaining that chemistry will only make them better.”
LADY TIGER FILE
Coach: Liz Galloway-McQuitter (7th season, 56-116) 2013 record: 12-18. District record: 6-4 (3rd). Playoffs: Lost to LaVega in bi-district. Returning starters: 3. Key losses: Shelby Evans, Lexi Robertson. Key returnees: Velma Mitchell (5-9, Jr., G, 9.5 ppg, 1st team all-district), Dae Dae Robertson (5-10, So., F, 4.5, 4.3 reb, 1st team all-district), Taylor Pickett (5-9, Sr., P), Samantha Muston (5-11, Sr., P), Ansley Jenkins (5-5, Sr., G/F), Emily Norris (5-5, Sr., G), Ikeria Green (5-6, Jr., PG), Jasia Rubin (5-3, So., G), Joli Carpenter (5-6, So., G). Top newcomer: Alix Hoffman (6-2, Sr. transfer from Thorndale, 6.7 ppg, 4.7 reb. 1st team all-district). Last playoff appearance: 2013. Last winning season: 2012.