Helena girls basketball to rely on experience entering 2018-19 season

Published 3:08 pm Monday, November 12, 2018

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA – After reaching the Class 6A sweet 16 in Montgomery last season with a roster that included six freshmen, the Helena Huskies girls basketball team will look to build on that experience as they begin a new season on Thursday, Nov. 15.

To start the 2018-19 campaign, the Huskies return a large portion of their roster from a year ago where they will rely on their three seniors Chloe Van Kovering, Melanie Watson and Julia Hensley as well as one junior and six sophomores.

Head coach Alan Skinner returns for his fourth season to lead the Huskies and said the biggest plus going into this season is player experience.

“It’s definitely nice because a lot of them have one year of varsity experience,” Skinner said. “It’s a lowercase e experience, not uppercase E experience but last year before Christmas I think we were like 2-8 and then around Christmas time we kind of started getting it together and I think we finished the year around 10-6. So, the biggest thing with the young players is that it’s a mixture of they have a year of experience under their belt, but there’s also the added bonus of I’m not foreseeing there being as much of a learning curve to start the year.”

One challenge Helena will have to overcome is the loss of second team All-County guard Jordan Jones from a season ago. As a senior, Jones averaged 17 points per game while helping lead the Huskies to the Sweet 16. She also recorded more than 1,000 points in her time at Helena. The Huskies also lost point guard Brandis Lang from a season ago.

“Jordan had a huge impact on our program and she’s at Montevallo now and going to do great things there,” Skinner said. “Any program that loses a 1,000-point scorer you’re going to have to adjust how you do things. But I think that rather than approaching it as we’ve got to go find the next person who’s going to go out and average 15 per game or something, instead, we can kind of say ‘Hey, we can all pitch in on our own and make up the difference without a problem.’”

One change for Helena this year will be the slight shakeup in the Class 6A Area 8 alignment that now includes the Huskies, Chelsea, Pelham and newly added Calera making it a four-team area as opposed to a three-team area the past few seasons.

Skinner believes the four-team area will be a bit of a change but the Huskies are still familiar with the Eagles from playing them in year’s past. Overall, Helena should be more battle tested compared to a season ago.

“We have gotten tougher, I think, in all elements of basketball,” Skinner said. “Just being able to handle a lot of pressure and how to play against certain things. Everybody has also gotten a lot more coachable and gotten adjusted to how we do things, and I think one of our strengths is that we are a lot deeper. There’s not as much fall off when I go to my bench as there has been in year’s past.”

The Huskies will open the season on Thursday, Nov. 15, at home against Vestavia at 6 p.m.

The 2018-19 Helena varsity girls basketball roster is as follows: Rachel Forrester, Autumn Edmonds, KK Busby, Kya Gardner, Montana Harris, Jessica Powell, Brianna Wilson, Van Kovering, Watson and Hensley.