New look Jayettes open season at Huskies

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Perry will begin play Friday at Des Moines Hoover, their first game under new head coach Claire Marburger. In front are, from left, Taryn Nehring, Cynthia Aguirre, Litzy Ramirez, Maria Aguilar, Kathryn West, Laurine Calamy and Natalie Castillo. At rear are Maddy Hollingsworth, Sam Robles, Jayna Kenney, Lydia Olejniczak, Callie Steva and Maci Tunink. Photo submitted.


Several changes will be evident to anyone watching the Perry girls basketball team this season.

First will be on the bench, where former Jayette standout Claire Marburger has taken the head coaching reins.

Other changes are coming based on Marburger’s philosophy, the first of which is a switch to man-to-man defense and a ditching from the 2-3 zone that opponents have shredded the past few seasons.

“We will have to learn how to play it (man defense) and it is going to take some time, but this is the direction I think we need to go,” Marburger said. “Our goal will be to hold teams in the 30s if we can. Doing that is, I think, going to give us the best chance to win some games.”

Perry was 2-20 last season and winless in 17 Raccoon River Conference play. This will be the first year of play in the Heart of Iowa for Perry, with their first league game a trip to South Hamilton Dec. 3.

Marburger said she will install an offense that can hopefully clear driving lanes and also provide openings in the post.

“We are not going to stop shooting three’s (3-pointers), but we are not going to just come down court and launch the first one we see,” the coach explained. “The focus is going to be on getting good shots, and getting more offensive rebounds.”

Perry struggled shooting the ball last year, hitting on 29 percent of all shots from the floor and just 22 percent of 3-pointers. The Jayettes sank 58 percent of their attempted free throws.

Junior Lydia Olejniczak is the leading returning scorer, having averaged 13.4 ppg with 294 total points. She had 149 rebounds, 22 assists and 40 steals. Olejniczak was 99-of-151 (66 percent) at the foul line and sank 21-of-91 treys (23 percent).

Senior Jayna Kenney is the second-leading scorer back for PHS. She had 122 points (5.8 ppg) and 91 boards, with 26 assists and 34 steals. Kenney hit 16-of-66 triples (24 percent) and was 30-of-54 (56 percent) on free throws.

Also returning is senior Michelle Tobar, who scored 51 points and had 35 rebounds, and junior Kathryn West, who tallied 30 points while grabbing 23 caroms.

Perry averaged only 28 points per game while surrendering 63. Marburger said both numbers must improve, especially the latter.

“We cannot give up 50 points a game because we are not likely to score that many,” she said. “Like anything there will be growing pains as the team gets used to a new way of doing things, but as long as I see progress and see us moving forward that will be a good sign.”

Marburger is a firm believer in building through the youth ranks and has worked hard since her hiring in that direction, holding multiple open gyms and camps and trying to generate excitement and involvement.

One step in that process is the Jayette For A Day program. At each home game, one young girl cager in grades 3-6 will be on the floor when the team warms up, will sit on the varsity bench and will even be able to visit the locker room.

The opportunities were eagerly snapped up — all home games already spoken for.

“I want them to buy into basketball,” Marburger said. “I want them to get the bug early and to stick with it and anything I can do to make that happen I will do.”

Perry travels to Des Moines Hoover Friday, then hosts Fort Dodge St. Edmond Tuesday. They will travel to Boone Nov. 30 and South Hamilton Dec. 3.

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