February 14, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 43

Medical Lake girls show big gains in coach’s second season

Cardinals’ Schwarzer looks forward to next year with offseason of preparation for improvement

The Medical Lake girls’ basketball team made an early exit from the postseason last Tuesday, falling 55-40 in a lost-out contest in Chewelah.

But considering the Cards even got to the game in the first place might be considered a win in itself. Medical Lake’s improvement from the first year under head coach Carey Schwarzer might be considered meteoric considering they went winless in a dozen games in their final season in the Great Northern League and 1-19 overall.

The 2012-13 Cardinals were 4-8 in their first season in the Northeast A League, 8-13 in all games. Kelby Wegner scored 20 points while Cassidy Hagel added 19 in the finale.

“I told the girls after the last game I’m proud of how they improved this season,” Schwarzer said.

The group came together as a team and started to develop an attitude where they could win close games, Schwarzer said. “In the past we haven’t been able to do that.”

The next hurdle, Schwarzer said, is to use the offseason to develop a consistency. “A couple of times we had the game of the season but then struggled to follow that in the next game,” Schwarzer said.

One thing that might help fix the issue is more gym time and more effort put into improving shooting.

“Knowing that you’re prepared and put in the work in the offseason helps you to build that confident attitude and have that swagger you need when the going gets tough,” Schwarzer said. “Put your foot down and say no, we are better than this and we’re going to compete.”

Putting in the work in the offseason will help that, Schwarzer said. “I don’t know if that’s the missing link but it could be a part of it.”

While the season has just ended and it’s time for Schwarzer to have a little time to enjoy her family, plans are in the works for that off season she deems so important.

The last two weeks of school she will conduct another edition of a shooting camp. The session emphasizes enhancing shooting and individual offensive skills.

Additionally, Schwarzer wants to have her team play in a summer league and some tournaments. “I don’t have anything nailed down yet,” she said.

Schwarzer thinks putting pieces of her high school career at Newport, where her team won a state championship in 1999, the University of San Francisco where she played Division 1 and professionally in Germany, will help fine tune her coaching abilities next season in what would be her fourth in high school ball. She was head coach at Riverside before being hired to teach fulltime at Medical Lake in 2011.

Medical Lake’s seniors, Sabrina Earle, Kelby Wegner, Becky Trout, Faith Keister and Brandi Wren, earned significant credit and justified praise for the upward move Schwarzer said. “They were just a great bunch of girls, great leaders for our program,” Schwarzer said. “The seniors were the ones who got stretching exercises underway before practice, even at 8 a.m. They were all out there starting individual workouts.”

Schwarzer has an experienced – and mature – group of players returning, she said of juniors to be like Maleeka Wegner and Cassidy Hagel, as well as seniors Darby Evans and Abigail Morrison.“We do have a strong group of youngsters coming up and I was very proud of how the JV (junior varsity) players I brought up for the last couple of games they just stepped right up,” Schwarzer said. “If you didn’t know they were JV players I don’t think you would have noticed.”

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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