Girls basketball: Seneca first-year coach Josh Myers hopes to play up-tempo

The Fighting Irish are coming off a 22-10 season and Tri-County Conference championship

Seneca's Alyssa Zellers shoots a three-point shot over Marquette's Eva McCallum and Avery Durdan during the Tri-County Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 at Midland High School.

Seneca first-year girls basketball coach Josh Myers was hired late in the summer and said he only really was able to work with his players for about a week prior to starting official practices.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Myers said.

Myers has spent many years coaching basketball all different levels. He coached the Sangamon Valley boys team to three 20-win seasons and a regional championship in 12 seasons.

He takes over a Fighting Irish program that finished 22-10 overall last season, captured its fourth consecutive Tri-County Conference regular season title at 11-1 and reached the Class 2A Wilmington Regional championship, falling to Fieldcrest.

“The season isn’t a sprint, but after only having a short time over the summer and a couple weeks of official practice, there is a lot I’m throwing at the girls and it’s going to take them time to adjust to me and the way I feel the game should be played,” Myers said. “Unfortunately, I’ve only had really about half our practices with everyone who is going to be on the team with a couple girls running at state cross country and another five at the FFA convention. The key is us getting all of the basics down on both ends of the floor first, the things that are going to be the backbone of what we want to do. There will time to add wrinkles in as we go along. The ultimate goal is to be playing your best basketball when the postseason rolls around.”

Seneca features one senior in Lauren Cronkrite, seven juniors in Lauryn Barta, Layla Fessler, Aubrie Jackson, Audry McNabb, Evelyn O’Connor, Lainie Olson and Alyssa Zellers (6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 3.5 steals, third team all-TCC last season), two sophomores in Tess Krull and Camryn Stecken, as well as three freshmen in Emma Mino, Graysen Provance and Gracie Smith.

The Irish lost Kennedy Hartwig, the team’s leading scorer at 15.0 ppg, a unanimous TCC first teamer and most valuable player selection, to graduation and she’s currently playing at North Central College.

“We have a couple of returning starters back as well as a number of girls who saw significant floor time last season so that’s a plus,” Myers said. “My assistant coach Steve Haines, junior varsity coach Jen Baxter and freshman coach Mariah Bolin really held things together over the summer and made sure the girls were getting work in while the search for a new coach was on going.”

Myers said he likes to play the game at an uptempo pace on both ends of the floor.

“I like for my teams to push the ball up the floor and get out and run on offense,” Myers said. “I feel like we have a number of returning players with experience that we will be able to do that. I want us to be able to use our speed to our advantage. Then on defense I want my teams to pressure the ball and cause some havoc for our opponents. Along with those things is just playing the game as hard as we can every second of every game. So far, the competitiveness in practice has been great and the goal is to roll that over when the games start up.”

As far as goals or expectations, Myers said that hasn’t been talked about it yet, but as of now he just wants his team to adapt to all the things that come with playing for a new coach.

“We haven’t really sat down and set goals as far as the team goes yet,” Myers said. “I think as of now it’s just important that we keep working and learning in practice and more than likely our first few games at our tournament will tell us all where we are at and where we need to concentrate our efforts.”

Seneca opens the season at home at 7 p.m. Monday at against Herscher in pool play of the Falcon-Irish Thanksgiving Tournament before taking on Hall on Tuesday, Serena on Thursday and a placement game on Saturday.

Seneca's Lainie Olson runs into the lane to score a basket against Marquette during the Tri-County Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 at Midland High School.
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