Nevada Daily Mail
"We really didn't say anything to them especially other than its the home opener. I mean, we had a lot of people here and we wanted to play well." Cottey Comets head basketball coach Dave Ketterman didn't say much to give his players extra motivation coming into Tuesday night's home opener against Ozark Christian College, but what little he did say worked wonders.
The Comets came into the night at a decided advantage from the simple fact that unlike OCC, they had already had the chance to get back into the rhythm of real game action. The Lady Ambassadors hadn't had that luxury, coming into Hinkhouse Center for their first game of the season.
Despite that game experience advantage, however, Ketterman still wasn't quite sure what might happen when the Comets took the floor. After winning just six of 22 games last year, Ketterman said his second-year players have improved, but still represent a little bit of an unknown.
"I didn't know how our sophomores would be," he said. "We didn't have a lot of success last year consistently."
Nearly all of Ketterman's returning players stepped up in a big way Tuesday as the Comets finished the opening half with nearly as many steals as they had points allowed by the defense. Ozark Christian simply couldn't seem to find any kind of answer for what the Comets were doing on either side of the ball, resulting in a lopsided affair that could have been even worse.
The Comets spent the majority of the opening half and the game simply trying some new things to see what worked the best, but still found themselves with a 53-17 advantage heading into the locker room at the break.
"I think the kids are starting to kind of learn what they can do and what their other teammates can do," Ketterman said. "So, hopefully, we'll keep improving on that."
Things only got better for Cottey as the second half began and the night progressed as Cottey continued to dominate the game on both sides of the ball. And much to Ketterman's surprise and pleasure, it wasn't simply one or two players doing most of the damage on either side, but nearly the entire roster was getting in on the action.
"The most important thing is we had a number of kids score and that was what I was most pleased with," he said.
The Comets finished the night basically coasting through the second half to avoid running up the score too much. That didn't work out entirely, however, as the Lady Ambassadors simply never got anything going, almost handing the Comets a 64-point victory.
Cottey finished the night with a total of six players in double figures in the scoring column, led by sophomore Blaklee Sanders, who finished the night with 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting. As a team, the Comets finished 42-for-94 from the field and 10-for-18 from the free-throw line.
With that victory, the Comets improved to 2-0 on the year and will be back in action Friday against a much tougher opponent in the Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds. The 'Hounds beat Cottey last year at Hinkhouse Center and despite having a short roster and a very shallow bench, Ketterman said he wouldn't be surprised to see them put up a much stronger fight than OCC.
"They're all athletic, they've got some good shooters, they're physical inside," Ketterman said. "It will be a much different game than we saw tonight."
With that stiff challenge looming, Ketterman said he hopes to keep his entire roster as involved in every game as possible and to continue to improve. Despite lacking size, Ketterman believes he has several players who will be capable of stepping up and making significant contributions.
Ketterman said he has begun to experiment with ways to negate that size disparity, but it will still be an issue when postseason play rolls around. Ketterman's four largest players -- 6-foot sophomore Lanie Skaggs, 5-11 sophomore Bailey Braden, 5-10 freshman Cassie Hale and 5-9 freshman Selena Gochenour -- will split the duties at the post position, Ketterman said, and will hopefully be able to negate the substantial size advantage opponents are likely to have over the Comets.
On top of that, Ketterman said he has also been working on making sure sophomore Chelsey Rowland stays out of foul trouble and making sure Croatian sophomore guard Petra Stankovic keeps her confidence up and avoids trying to do too much, which has been her major weakness.
"She can light it up if we can get her in that mode, in that way of thinking," Ketterman said of Stankovic's shooting ability. "And we're going to need that."
Ketterman won't have to wait long to find out whether or not his goals will come to fruition as Tuesday night's contest marked the beginning of a four-game homestand that will continue at 6 p.m., Friday, when the Greyhounds enter Hinkhouse Center.