BRADFORD – With a new coach leading the way, the Bradford girls basketball team is hoping to accomplish things the Lady Railroaders have never done before.
Patrick McKee, a junior high and high school math teacher at Bradford, is taking over as the Lady Railroaders head coach. He replaces former coach Dennis Fair.
In his first year at the helm, McKee has high expectations for his team. He wants the Lady Railroaders to get back to a .500 record, something they haven’t done since 1995. He also wants to win a sectional championship, something the Lady Railroaders have never done.
“I don’t think that’s out of reach at all,” McKee said.
To help accomplish those goals, Bradford has a lot of returning experience, including its top four scorers from last season.
Junior Brooke Dunlevy, who led Bradford with 9.5 points per game as a sophomore and also contributed 5.7 rebounds per game, will be one of the Lady Railroaders’ starting guards.
Junior Haley Patty, who led the team with 3.9 assists per game, was third on the team with 6.2 points per game and also had 4.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore, returns at point guard.
Junior Michayla Barga, who was second in scoring with 6.4 points per game and also added 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, also returns at guard.
McKee said he sees those three junior guards being the strength of the Lady Railroaders.
Also returning is Bradford’s fourth-leading scorer from last year, junior Bree Bates. However, Bates, who averaged 6.0 points per game and a team-best 5.9 rebounds per game as a junior, will miss the first two months of the season with an injury.
When she returns to the lineup, Bates will start as a post player alongside sophomore Brooke Brower. Brower averaged 0.3 points per game and 0.4 rebounds per game as a freshman.
McKee said he’s excited about the amount of offensive the Lady Railroaders are returning from last year’s team.
“Obviously any time you can return four of your top scorers, it’s exciting for your program,” he said.
While they have a lot of returning experience, Bradford will have to replace five players from last year’s team who graduated. They also are transitioning to new offensive and defensive schemes under the new coaching staff.
The team has adjusted well to the changes, McKee said.
“It’s going good,” he said. “The girls are coming in every day, and they’re working hard. I think they’re seeing a lot of the small detail things that need to be changed.”
Offensively, McKee wants the players to move around more and create lanes instead of standing around when they don’t have the ball.
“We’re doing some great things offensively,” he said about the progress thus far.
Defensively, the Lady Railroaders are going from a zone defense to more man-to-man with an emphasis on help defense, McKee said.
“We feel pretty comfortable that they can guard the ball,” he said.
McKee said he’s a firm believer that defense wins championships, so that aspect of the game is getting a lot of attention in Bradford.
“Now we’re looking at make them into better defensive players so they’re better overall basketball players,” he said.
Overall, McKee and his staff is trying to stress that every player has a role and they need to complete their role at all times.
So far the Lady Railroaders have responded with open arms and are buying into the idea that they can be a successful team, McKee said. Building confidence will be one of the keys for the team to achieve its goals, he said.
“They want to learn the game of basketball. They really do,”McKee said. “They really are great basketball players.”
story created on Thursday 11/15/2012 at 7:04:54 pm by Kyle Shaner