KEVIN TAYLOR’s second season at the helm of St. Joseph-Ogden girls’ basketball ended with a third-place finish in Class 2A. He offers up some thoughts on the Spartans:
What are some of your takeaways from last year?
The biggest thing is it was a good experience — not just for all the players last year, but for the program in general. I think we gained a lot of things that will help us this season moving forward. When you get to play extra games in the postseason like that, it’s a really good experience.
Do people still pull you aside to talk about last season?
There’s a little bit of that, but St. Joe, there’s always things happening. Volleyball’s having their great run. ... There’s no doubt that it’s still on people’s minds, but at the same time, everybody’s kind of moving on as well.
What are you hoping to learn about this group early on, with the graduation of three starters and loss of Hannah Dukeman to injury?
The thing we’re looking for most is, ‘Are we going to fill the old roles of people that have moved on?’ We’ve got young players with talent, but you want to see how they develop.
Who are some players we should keep an eye on?
Payton (Vallee), obviously, is our only returning starter. We have another Payton, Jacob, who is a sophomore who we expect big things from this year, along with Ella Armstrong. ... Then we have some other players like Taylor Barnes and Katie Cramer who helped us out last year.
Have you seen a jump in numbers after last season’s state berth?
We’ve definitely seen some excitement about the program. Numbers are up this year from last year, but I think some of that is it’s a pretty big freshman class. So our numbers haven’t gone crazy or anything, but each year I’ve been here we’ve seem to get a couple extra.
What growth have you seen in yourself as SJ-O’s coach?
Obviously, we’re very confident in what we’ve done in the past. We feel like we make a lot of adjustments to utilize what we have. We’re going to try some new things this year, but overall we’re going to stay the same type of team we’ve tried to be in the past.