Woodbury girls basketball: New-look Royals beat Mahtomedi to start seasonArmed with a new coach and new offense, the Woodbury girls basketball team opened the 2011-12 season with a 62-58 win at Mahtomedi.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Armed with a new coach and new offense, the Woodbury girls basketball team opened the 2011-12 season with a 62-58 win at Mahtomedi on Friday, Dec. 2. The Royals then fell to Chanhassen a day later, 73-55, on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Hopkins Breakdown Tip-Off Classic.
New head coach Lionel Jones, who comes to Woodbury after compiling a 131-23 record over the past seven seasons, said he “was happy to get the W,” but wasn’t “overall pleased with both the games.”
“We’re far from a finished product,” said Jones, whose team at Menomonie (Wis.) High School finished 22-1 last season. “This isn’t something that really surprised me. With the style of basketball we’re trying to play, we’re asking the girls to play faster than what they’re used to. There’s going to be some growing pains along the way and we’re going to take our lumps, but I think we have the personnel to be able to grow and become the team we want to be by the end of the year.”
Jones takes the reins of the Royals from longtime head coach Dave Preller, who was named the Minnesota Coaches Association girls basketball Class AAAA State Coach of the Year last year. Led by 2011 graduate Michelle Young, Woodbury finished 20-8 overall last season, was runner-up in the Suburban East Conference with a 14-3 record and reached a fourth-straight Section 4AAAA championship game.
“When you’ve been around the game as long as I have, you really don’t get pleased by winning or losing,” Jones said. “It’s really if you are able to execute the goals you set for yourself that week.”
In the win over Mahtomedi, the Royals were behind 35-30 at the half, but rebounded with a 32-23 second half and escaped with a four-point victory.
“We showed flashes during the game of the team that we will become at some point this season,” Jones said. “We shot the three ball well in the second half and that helped us get over the hump.”
Woodbury senior guard Kristina White led all players in the game with 22 points.
“The thing about Kristina is her intelligence,” Jones said. “When people see her play they see her athleticism and her ability to shoot, but she is so intelligent. She understands what we’re trying to accomplish in this offense. She made a lot of unselfish plays as well distributing the basketball. She’s crucial in what we’re trying to do and we expect big things from her. I think she’s only going to get better.”
In addition to White, sophomore Kalley Hakes scored nine points and senior Kayla Hinton chipped in six points.
In the loss to Chanhassen, Woodbury fell behind 32-22 at the half and couldn’t catch up. Hinton led the Royals in the game with 14 points and White netted 12 points. Also, junior Mikaela Hunter scored eight points.
“We just never really got it going,” Jones said. “We were severely out-rebounded in that game and that’s something we have to work on. Overall, it’s just getting comfortable with what we’re doing and believing in what we’re doing. We look really good in practice, but when the games mean something we’re not executing just yet.”
Woodbury traveled to St. Paul to take on ninth-ranked St. Paul Central on Tuesday, Dec. 6, after the Bulletin went to press.
Next, the Royals hold their home opener on Friday, Dec. 9, against SEC and intra-district rival Park. Tip-off is set for 7:15 p.m.
“Our schedule is going to be tough. We knew that,” Jones said. “Our first five games will be a good measuring stick. The Park game is a fun rivalry game. Their a much improved team and are well-coached. Hopefully we will have improved on some things once we get to that game on Friday.”