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Avery boys basketball head coach Scott Polsgrove teaches a defensive drill during early
morning practice on Friday, Nov. 9.
Photo by Jamie Shell

Originally published: 2012-11-15 10:59:11
Last modified: 2012-11-15 10:59:11

Vikings basketball gears up for 2012-13 season

Jamie Shell / (

Avery boys’ varsity basketball enters a new era with the hiring of new men’s head basketball coach Scott Polsgrove, while Avery girls’ varsity basketball looks to continue a run of successful seasons under veteran head basketball coach Missy Lyons.

Pace setters: Lady Vikings build foundation on speed and defense

“It’s not how good you are, it’s how bad you want it.” - AHS Lady Vikings 2012-13 team slogan.The 2012-13 Avery Lady Vikings is a team that is built to run the floor and outwork opponents. If preseason practice is any indication of things to come, many teams will be hard-pressed to keep up with the pace that AHS hopes to set on the floor.

“We’re doing a lot of conditioning and basics and working hard to get better,” Lyons said. “The girls are doing what they need to do to get everything in. So far, we’re learning to play together as a team, and we look pretty good so far.”

Two seniors bolster Avery this season in guards Kelsie Clarke and Kenzie Thomas. Without a deep roster of tall, athletic post players and a wealth of experience as in years past, however, Lyons explained that this year’s club will rely on speed to get up and down the floor, finding open shooters in transition and also utilizing the strengths and skills of post players inside.

“I really love the way our players are pushing each other in practice to get better, but speed is definitely one of our strong points,” Lyons added. “We’re really quick and aggressive, and we’re working on being quick on defense and traps and boxing out. We’re changing a little of our offense and defense because of our size, while our younger players like Jodi Poore and Juanita Guzman are coming along faster in the post than I thought they would.”

Avery looks to replace the on-floor presence of Megan Tennant, who led the team in scoring and rebounding a season ago. Looking to step into that spot is junior Haley Woody, who has efforted throughout the summer to improve her overall game.

“We’re definitely going to miss Megan and her presence inside, but Haley has been playing that post position really strong right now,” Lyons explained. “I was afraid we would miss those post points, especially if we tend to be streaky shooting the basketball outside, but Haley has gotten stronger and done a great job and will help us.”

According to Lyons, this year’s team can compete for a conference championship if it can remain consistent on a game-by-game basis. “If we can stay injury-free and consistent, we can potentially be a good team,” Lyons said. 

One area that may hold the club back in 2012-13 is the team’s youth, and how the team responds to adversity will be crucial to success.

“We are a young team, and we can’t afford to let negative things and difficulties affect us. We’re going to struggle a little, but if we don’t learn from the struggles, we might have some setbacks,” Lyons explained.

New dawn rising: Vikings basketball changes direction, emphasis under Polsgrove

A sound structure leads to positive results.

That is the strategy of new AHS boys varsity basketball head coach Scott Polsgove as he takes on the task of leading the high school program. With 20 years of collegiate head coaching experience under his belt, Polsgrove is eager to pass along skills and knowledge to his team for 2012-13.“This team is doing a very good job at working hard on the floor. Although we started on Oct. 31, and this is officially our ninth practice, this is only our third practice with everyone together,” Polsgrove explained during a 6 a.m. practice last week at Viking Gym. “We are throwing a lot at them and they have a lot to learn. We’ll make some mistakes and it will be a process. As much as I’d like us to be playing great basketball when we open on Nov. 19 at Watauga, that probably won’t be the case. We’ll have to figure things out on the run.”

Polsgrove is pleased with the work ethic the team has exhibited during practice and scrimmages leading up to its season opener in Boone. 

“With the attitude these guys have had and work ethic they are showing, when it’s February and it really counts, I believe we will have made a lot of progress,” Polsgrove added.

This year’s Vikings team features an athletic mix of shooters, slashers and post players. According to Polsgrove, practice has afforded he and his staff the opportunity to work with them on changing habits and rethinking the way they play the game of basketball.

“We’ve spent time on breaking bad habits or just doing things that the guys haven’t thought about doing before,” Polsgrove added. “There’s a way we want to do things, and they’re doing a great job of listening and working hard. It will be a long, slow process, but we have to make a little bit of progress every day.”

The hallmark of the 2012-13 Vikings will be defense. Much practice time has been spent on defensive positioning, rotation, challenging shots and rebounding the basketball. All are areas the Vikings must master in order to continue to progress and succeed.

“It’s incredibly important that this team buys into playing defense. My mindset and philosophy as a basketball coach has always been defense first,” Polsgrove said. “Defense keeps you in games when things are going well offensively. There’s going to be nights where we shoot the ball well, and there will be times when we struggle shooting. But every night we step on the floor we can play well defensively and give the effort to play well on that side of the ball. We’re not ignoring the offensive side, but we’re doing some things offensively that they’ve never done before. Both sides of the ball are a work in progress, but I know that we can keep ourselves in games and win games by the job we do playing defense and rebounding. That part of the game will never change.”

Avery opens regular season play this Monday, Nov. 19, at Watauga. Junior varsity girls tip off at 4 p.m., followed by junior varsity boys and varsity contests.