New Ignacio High School girls basketball coach Justa Whitt heard opportunity knocking.
The Bobcats, returning virtually the entire roster from last season, are listening to the same opportunity.
“It is a pretty exciting time for us,” said Whitt, who took over as the head coach after three seasons as an assistant to Brice Searles at IHS.
“The girls are all accustomed to me in practice. They know me,” Whitt said.
“I’m a little tougher on them ... as the head coach,” Whitt said. “But they are responding. There is a sense of urgency.”
Whitt, who said she was overjoyed to take over the IHS girls team, said she is using up-tempo practices to prepare the Bobcats for up-tempo execution in games.
“That’s building another step in the ‘team,’” Whitt said.
“The girls are pushing each other in practice,” she said, adding that the 2012-13 Ignacio team features a “senior mentality.”
“That senior ... urgency has clicked on,” Whitt said of the Bobcats, who include five seniors with playing time from last year.
They are led by all-conference returnee Michelle Simmons, a four-year starter for the Ignacio girls basketball team.
Also returning for the Bobcats are seniors Pam Cotton, Mariah Vigil, Valerie Armstrong and Jordan Cuthair.
“Jordan has kind of stepped up this year. She understands her role. She’s been rewarded for her hard work,” Whitt said. “She’ll be more pivotal ... a hidden gem.”
Sophomores Cloe Seibel and Sky Cotton, who played extensively as freshmen, are back for the new edition Bobcats.
Angela Herrera, a club volleyball player, also will provide depth for the Bobcats this season, Whitt said.
”I look for her to step us as time goes by,” Whitt said.
“We have some freshmen who will come up and help us, too,” Whitt said.
Whitt said she’s pleased to have Bri Simbeck as her assistant coach. Simbeck was a standout at Durango High School who went on to play at Regis University of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
“Bri’s excellent. She’s young with a lot of energy,” Whitt said.
“Our speed has got to be utilized,” she said of the new Bobcats.
The Bobcats showcased their team speed in a scrimmage at Bayfield last week.
“We looked pretty good,” Whitt said, adding that the Bobcats have high expectations for themselves this season.
“We need to be more disciplined in running our offense ... better shots. We need to be a better ... scoring team,” Whitt said.
She said the Bobcats felt a sense of disappointment when they didn’t advance out of volleyball regionals this year.
“That (disappointment) is pushing them further (in basketball),’ Whitt said.