Tigers buy into new philosophy
First-year Scotland County girls basketball coach Shaina Dochterman made several changes when she took over the Tigers' program, namely putting a greater emphasis on the fundamentals in practice and a weight lighting program.
"We worked on a lot of ballhandling and shooting," Dochterman said.
The hardest sell, though, was Dochterman's plan to use Scotland County's length and size in a different way. She wanted to drop the 2-3 zone and switch to man-to-man defense.
"At first, they didn't think man-to-man would be a good defense for them," Dochterman said. "After the first few games, I think they realized this defense is good for us."
The changes have paid dividends for the Tigers. Scotland County is off to a 12-2 start and in first place in the Tri-Rivers Conference with a 4-1 record.
Senior forward Bethany Rader said Scotland County's size has contributed to the start.
"We have a lot of size with our starting lineup, and even the girls that come off the bench are tall and lanky," Rader said. "The transition to man from zone was different. We weren't used to it and had to condition a little bit more for it."
For the Tigers to win their first conference title in school history, Scotland County will need to continue to stay hot from behind the arc. During Scotland County's win over South Shelby last Saturday, the Tigers buried 11 3-pointers, including four from sophomore point guard Randi Slaughter and two from Katie Howard.
Unity girls on quite a roll
Unity girls coach Brad Begeman believes the Lady Mustangs are peaking at the right time. After stumbling to a 1-3 mark at the Beardstown Lady Tiger Classic in December, Unity (20-4) has rolled off seven consecutive victories. The win streak includes a win over South Fulton, the team that ended the Lady Mustangs' season in the regional championship last season.
"I just think the Beardstown thing was a wakeup call for us," Begeman said. "I think when we look back at the season we will think it was the best thing that ever happened to us."
The run started when Breanne Begeman made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Biggsville West Central on Jan. 2, and the momentum helped carry the Lady Mustangs to a the championship at the Central Lady Panther Classic.
"The Central Tournament was kind of redemption after Beardstown," Brad Begeman said. "They were bound and determined to win the Unity Tournament and the Central Tournament."
What has made the Lady Mustangs tough during the last seven games has been their balance. Unity has had four different players finish in double figures and had three players finish in double figures three times.
"We're putting five people on the court that other teams can't disregard," Brad Begeman said.
Hannibal wrestler on title path
Hannibal wrestler Chandler Fohey isn't stuck in one particular style. The 113-pound sophomore has shown the willingness and versatility to adapt.
"Anytime you show him something new or do something different, he goes right back to partner to work on it," Pirates coach Derek Greening said. "He's really become a complete wrestler."
In the offseason, Fohey focused on getting better on his feet.
"The biggest improvement from my freshman year would have to be my neutral position," Fohey said. "We have work on that a lot in the room. My teammates helped push me in practice to do my hardest and be the best."
After placing second at 103 pounds in Class 3 last season, Fohey rolled to a 29-2 start this season. He's ranked No. 3 at 113 points in Class 3 and has two wins over the second-ranked wrestler in Class 2, Kirksville's Ethan Rentschler.
Greening said Fohey's biggest impact may be in the wrestling room.
"Chandler's a really fun kid to be around, he's light-heated and is a great supporter of his teammates," Greening said. "He helps out the kids that aren't experienced, and he goes hard with kids that are experienced. It wouldn't matter if we just got done wrestling for 15 minutes straight, he would say something to put smile on everyone's face. He's always in a great mood."
Fohey said he isn't too worried about where his season will end.
"There's no pressure, really," Fohey said. "I just want to go out there and do my best. If I train hard and give 100 percent, it will pay off."
-- Josh Rizzo, Herald-Whig Sports Writer