By Kevin Wilson
Any team that wants to unseat Class 1A girls champion Des Moines has a tough task ahead of it.
Elida coach Dan Howard knows that, but he’s also got enough respect for the District 3-1A opponents to know that the Lady Tigers will be hard-pressed just to reach their third state tournament in four seasons.
“There’s no cake-walk in our district,” Howard said. “We’ll have to fight tooth and nail just to get out.”
After going 20-0 over the last two seasons in 3-1A, the Lady Tigers will need to have several returners fill holes left by the graduations of Heidi Best, Lynde Orcutt, Tammy Dixon and Kenna Armitage.
“We’ve definitely got some holes to fill, but if the girls step up and play, we’ll be all right.”
Elida starts its season on Monday at Tucumcari.
Howard said his three seniors (Keisha Chenault, Halee Best and Samantha Southard) will need to do most of the work for the Lady Tigers to have success and come near last year’s 24-3 mark.
“They’re our floor leaders,” Howard said of his seniors. “They’re going to have to do the bulk of the scoring and be leaders.
“Those three step up and show leadership, we’ll be all right.”
Howard said Elida played well at times in a scrimmage Tuesday at Texico, but admitted that it may take about half of the season before the team gets all the little things ironed out.
“We’ve got a ways to go,” Howard said. “We’re working hard and we’re coming out of volleyball, so it’s tough to tell.”
Elida coach Darrell Chenault and Dora coach Ty Thatcher are currently the longest-tenured boys basketball coaches in District 3-1A.
If Chenault’s accounts are accurate, they may have more in common this year. Each sports a young team with only one or two returning players each.
“Me and Ty may have one long year together,” Chenault joked. “He had a good one last year, though.”
While Dora won the Class 1A title last season, Elida suffered through a three-win season. Only 5-foot-10 senior Shay Daugherty returns for the Tigers, Chenault said, with some younger teammates who played “here and there” last year.
We’re going to be very very young still,” Chenault said. “We want to learn quickly and get to where we’re competitive.”
Chenault said the school’s small population does hamper the team at times — he estimated the school to have about 20 boys in its high school.
The boys schedule is pretty much the same as the girls schedule, with a tough pre-district offering.
“I think we play a tough schedule,” Chenault said. “The Farwell (Christmas) Tournament is a very tough tournament.”