KINGSTON — Days away from its Feb. 13 home opener, Kingston Junior High School’s gym is filled with anticipation. This year’s girls basketball team has a chance to cap a junior high school legacy for the Cavaliers.
The team has 39 consecutive wins and three league championships coming into the final girls hoops season in which KJH will be a junior high. And even though Tony Chisholm — who was head coach of the team for more than a decade — has departed, Kingston has begun the season with a certain air of poise.
The Cavs should find confidence in the fact that longtime JV coach Tim French is taking the lead.
His game strategy, he said, will be in the vein of what the team learned in previous years, but along with a few new plays and formations, he also brings a new approach to coaching.
“(In preseason) I’ve learned that different coaches have different coaching styles,” returning varsity freshman Ashley Redican said.
“(Chisholm) created an atmosphere with his personality and that is missing, but the girls have adjusted well,” French said.
Providing consistency, the majority of Kingston’s game plan will remain in line with that of the past three seasons — play good defense, get the ball out and run. In order to initiate that tempo, French said an early focus for the Cavs has been getting position on the boards and rebounding.
“You’ve got to have the ball to get out and run,” French said.
Securing the ball in the paint should be a little easier for KJH this year as 5’10” freshman post Elle Sander joins the team after transferring from Kings West.
“That is awesome!” freshman Kateese Carter said of Sander becoming a Cavalier. “She’s got a lot of talent, and she can really see the floor.”
Carter and handful of the Cavs have been playing ball on and off with Sander for many years as part of the NK Jammers tournament team. Reddican said a core of the Jammers’ girls have been playing together since third grade. That experience during the off-seasons has helped create a cohesiveness that is distinctive about KJH’s game.
Another big piece to the Cavs’ chemistry is their familiarity with the KJH program. This year’s varsity roster has four freshmen returning as varsity players — Ashley Reddican, Laura Wicklein, Clair Polson and Carter and eight returning from the JV program.
“It’s a lot of review at this point,” French said. “(What) might be the biggest strength of our team is getting out and running. And I’m all for that, but we need to be under control.”
Reddican said the Cavs have been learning fastbreak strategies from coach Joe Schiel who was head coach of the Jammers last winter and has come to coach the JV at Kingston this year.
To put those into play, Carter said that “Working hard and staying in shape,” will be keys this season, “because it’s hard to focus on winning when you’re tired.”
“We’re trying to keep our record going,” she said “We want to keep our title, it’s something we’ve been working hard for for a long time.”
Beginning with a match-up at home with Oakland Bay at 3 p.m. Feb. 13, the Cavs begin their 10-game regular season quest.