Lange gives girls mid-season grade

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In his second season as head basketball coach for the Lady Panthers, Chris Lange says he is pleased with the progress mid-way through the season. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By Paul Livengood

School’s out for winter break. The girls basketball team has taken final exams and are worry free.

Or are they?

The Panthers have one more grade to consider—the grade given to the team’s performance midway through the basketball season by Head Coach Chris Lange.

“I’d say it’s a B, B-plus,” Lange said. “Playing the schedule we’ve played up to this point, learning a new offense, a new press, adding a few new things into it, graduating 11 kids from last year… I think we have done a pretty good job.”

Let’s take a look at the resume that Lange is referring to thus far. The Panthers hold a 17-1 record, with the sole loss being suffered in the championship game of the Jack Frost Tournament in Georgetown to No. 1 ranked 4A Argyle, 34-26. The Panthers remain ranked right behind the Eagles at No. 2 in 4A.

The majority of the Panthers’ schedule early in the season was spent playing 5A and 6A teams. Lange expressed early and often that he wanted his team pushed to the limit—playing the toughest competition possible. He wants the team battle tested for district and playoff basketball.

Thus far, the strategy has worked. The Panthers are 2-0 in district and are on what seems a run to the playoffs.

Despite the strong results, Lange still believes his team has much to improve on to deserve that ‘A’ on their final exam, which will be evaluated at the end of the season.

The question is, what do the Panthers need to do in order to earn the A? According to Lange, he would like to see his team be more disciplined on offense, and not resort to small runs of playing “willy nilly” basketball.

“I don’t want those types of moments because it’s those type of moments that in a tight game will cause you to lose the ball game,” Lange said.

Another area Lange wants to see improvement from is three-point shooting. In the last handful of games, the Panthers have not shot particularly well from behind the arc. Against Burnet, Liberty Hill shot 3-for-21 from three-point range.

Finally, Lange wants to continue to shoot the ball well at the free throw line. The last game against the Bulldogs was rough from the charity stripe. The Panthers shot 16-for-27 (59.3 percent) from the free throw line.

There are still some mistakes that Lange is seeing on film, but he knows he can fix them with time.

“I’ve got to be patient and not lose my mind too much,” Lange said jokingly. “I just need to be patient with them.”

The team is growing as the season progresses and are learning as every game passes to work more cohesively as a unit. Lange’s message to the team remains getting the ball inside to the post.

With dominant post players in junior Sedona Prince, who stands 6-foot-7, and junior Kandyn Faurie, the team’s scoring leader, the outside opportunities open up and are much better looks at that juncture.

There have been a few surprises, some gifts for Lange if you will in this holiday season, in terms of the individual performances of certain players.

“Expectations are pretty high for all of them,” Lange said. “I expect a lot out of Bethany (McLeod), out of Shaylin (Vickers), out of (Madeline) Cheney and (Kasye) Bevers, and Faurie and Prince, of course. Sedona’s (Prince) footwork has gotten better. She’s definitely improved. She got more aggressive. I would say the biggest/nicest addition would be Michaela (De La Houssaye). She comes in and fills a role when needed. Her attitude is wonderful, and I’ve depended on her a couple of times (this season). I thought Andrea (House) played the best game I’ve ever seen her play as a varsity player last game against Burnet.”

Next up, the Panthers compete in the Whataburger Tournament at Saginaw High School in Fort Worth Dec. 28-30. The Panthers will play Lake County Christian in pool play.

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