COVENTRY TWP. Youth and injuries aren’t typically a recipe for success for a basketball team.
Squads that lack experience and have significant rotation players miss time due to injury rarely post massive win totals. Coventry girls basketball has faced those obstacles this season and through their first 13 games, the Comets’ 5-8 record and 3-5 Portage Trail Conference mark underscore the difficulty of the campaign.
“We are young and have been banged up for most of the season. The players are doing very well at understanding that we are a better team than our record right now,” second-year head coach Ryan Stoops said.
With just two seniors on the roster, Coventry is a team dominated by underclassmen. There are four freshmen on the varsity roster, placing an added burden on the veterans to provide leadership and a steady hand.
Senior guard Megan Murray has led the offense this season, averaging 9.2 points per game. At 5-foot-8, Murray has good size at the guard position and has used it to her advantage not only in scoring, but also on the glass. At 5.3 rebounds per game, she’s topped the team in rebounding several times and, according to Stoops, she’s toggled between the two roles throughout the year.
“Megan is the type of player that will do whatever job is asked of her,” Stoops said. “Some games it’s to score and some games it’s to rebound.”
The coaching staff is in its second season at the helm and after a transition season one year ago, the Comets are settling into the new system Stoops and his assistants brought to the court. According to Stoops, Murray and fellow senior Ja’Nayah Keys, along with the team’s four juniors, have done a great job helping the freshmen and sophomores on the roster adapt to the varsity level and understand the concepts the Comets use on both ends of the court.
Injuries have forced changes in the rotation over the course of the season but amidst the bumps and bruises, the coaching staff is seeking consistency from whoever is on the court at a given time.
“First … first we need to get healthy and stay healthy, but because we are young we are striving for consistency everyday,” Stoops said. “Consistent effort, consistent energy … we have some tough games ahead, but I believe we have learned things from our first time through the league.”
The contributions from the team’s freshmen and sophomores are an encouraging sign, as sophomore guard Taylor Norris is close behind Murray for team scoring honors. At 8.9 points per game, Norris’ biggest strength has been her all-around game, as she averages 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 blocks per game. Two freshmen, guard Maddie Ross and forward Stacey Arnold, have contributed when they’ve been healthy, but both have missed multiple games due to injury.
Ross was injured just four games into the season and at the time, was averaging 6.5 points per game. Arnold, at 3.9 points per game, has been the squad’s top rebounder when healthy, pulling down 7.6 caroms per contest. She’s been in and out of the lineup as she battles injuries and as the season winds down, Stoops knows that health will play a big role in how successful the Comets are.
Because of the games various players have missed with injuries and illness, Coventry has been forced to turn to other contributors to fill out the rotation. In the process, those players have gained valuable experience and with it, added to the team’s depth.
“We have a lot of players that can make plays so it’s hard for teams to game plan for one player,” Stoops said. “Every player has a role and everyone is striving to be the best in their role.”
With the postseason now just a few weeks away, time is running out to get everyone healthy, but if they can get some of their central rotation players back on the court, the Comets believe they have the talent to finish the year strong. It’s a strength they’ve developed going through the adversity of the season and those difficulties have been central plot points for a team playing its first season in a shiny new gym and new high school.
Regardless of how the remainder of the season unfolds, the Comets are trying to overcome their obstacles and build toward a promising future.
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