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Versatile offense key for girls

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JOSHUA A. BICKEL/THISWEEKSPORTS
Junior guard Taylor Snook is among the top returnees for the Eagles girls basketball team.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Positions will be a relative term for the New Albany High School girls basketball team this season, at least in the early going.

Lacking a dominant inside presence after losing 6-foot-2 forward Kyasia Duling to graduation, second-year coach Jeff Blunt has decided to emphasize versatility and has installed offenses that he hopes can be run from anywhere on the court.

"We've kind of mish-mashed all positions. We're not talking positions," said Blunt, whose team opened Nov. 23 by losing to Eastmoor Academy 53-38 in the Gary West Memorial Tip-Off Classic at Reynoldsburg. "The girls are about the same height. We can play with that a little bit in terms of switching screens. We won't be as firm on matchups as we have been in the past. Offensively, we've blurred the lines in terms of positions. I'm comfortable with a lot of kids bringing the ball up the floor and we've kind of made it to where we can get into an offense from anywhere, by anybody."

Sophomore Meche'la Cobb is the only starter back from last season, when the Eagles finished 15-9 overall and placed third in the OCC-Capital Division at 10-4 behind champion Olentangy Orange (14-0). The 6-0 forward is the team's tallest player, two inches taller than senior forward Kaitlyn Gliha and junior Taylor Snook.

"Meche'la Cobb will be a big help for us because she is long and tall and can hold her own inside with those long arms," 5-6 senior guard Jackie Drago said.

Cobb, who was named special-mention all-league last season, isn't concerned about the team's overall height.

"In my opinion, I think all of our players can play inside and play outside," she said. "We learn every position in practice, so everyone is capable of doing both jobs."

Gliha opted not to play basketball last year in order to concentrate on softball, for which she has signed with Miami University.

Snook is a candidate to replace 2013 graduate Hannah Scipio at point guard, along with 5-7 sophomore Caitlyn Coss and 5-3 sophomore Liza Hernandez. Scipio, who is playing for the University of Akron, averaged 7.3 points last season and was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Duling, who is playing for Duquesne University, was the Eagles' leading scorer a year ago, averaging 8.8 points and eight rebounds and being named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Also on the team are seniors Madison Fixari (5-5, guard), Lexi Simpson (5-6, guard), Abbie Skowron (5-2, guard) and Ally Vendetti (5-8, guard/forward), juniors Lindsey Moler (5-4, guard), Rachel Williams (5-5, guard) and Kyra Zuiderwig (5-9, forward) and freshman Brooke Israel (5-8, guard/forward).

New Albany begins league play Dec. 5 at Orange and plays its home opener Dec. 7 against Dresden Tri-Valley.

"We might be less skilled than last year, but it's amazing the team chemistry that exists with this group," Blunt said. "They work hard. This is a good group of girls that has fun playing basketball, and they're having a blast."

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