A familiar face has returned to coaching for the Eastern Lady Eagles.
Darren King, who last coached in 2017, is back and is looking forward to the coming season with his team.
Eastern will be led by senior twins Addison and Abby Cochenour. Junior Kelsey Helphenstine and sophomore Madison Shuler also return to the court from last year’s team.
Behind them, the roster is full of youth. Sophomore Payton Hardin and freshmen Lydia Park, Cylie Weaver, Gracie Fox, Anna Lesh and Sheyenne Montgomery complete the roster. Montgomery will not be taking the court this year after suffering a knee injury in a scrimmage.
“Overall, we are a young team,” said King. “We want to be competitive. We are going to try to win every game we play. I just want the girls to compete. When the fourth quarter comes, we want us to be the team that is still pushing the ball and executing the fast break to get the other teams worn down.”
Abby Cochenour is the team’s leading scorer, having already crossed the 1,000-point milestone early in her junior year.
“Abby is going to be our focal point. She will be the focal point of other teams too,” said King. “But I want the other girls to understand that we need to score and take some of the focal point away from her. If we have other players pick up some of the offense, it will take the pressure off Abby and make us so much better.”
Her sister, Addison, returns as a strong rebounder and ball handler that King hopes will be able to score more this year.
“Overall, Addison is probably the most athletic girl on the team. She can rebound, handle the ball, dribble, pass and score,” said King. “Kelsey Helphenstine, our junior, is one of the girls who will pick up the defense. Madison, our returning sophomore, will help us in the post.”
For the players who are stepping on the varsity floor for the first time, confidence will be the key as they become more comfortable with the speed of the game.
“All of the younger girls coming in are worried about stepping up and playing varsity,” said King. “We are going to have to have contributions from all nine of them no matter what we do. They are going to have to play and gain confidence.”
Looking at Southern Ohio Conference Division II play, King expects Wheelersburg, South Webster, Portsmouth and Waverly to be among the top teams. But he also expects his Lady Eagles to battle no matter who they are facing.
“Offensively, we are going to get out and run,” said King. “We will run defenses that are suited to our team’s abilities.”
King is being assisted by one of his former players Eastern graduate Kayla Alley.