HIGH SCORER

Carson Anderson (No. 20) returns as Jackson County's leading scorer from last season. 

Aaron Schuck has only been with the Jackson County girls’ basketball team for a few months, but the new coach’s attitude and energy has seemingly been infectious.

“We’re way hyper,” senior guard Carson Anderson said.

The Panthers have transitioned from former coach Monty McClure to the Schuck after McClure left after two seasons for an assistant’s job at Madison County. This is Schuck’s first head-coaching post.

He comes to Jackson County on the heels of 7-17 and 5-21 campaigns the past two seasons.

Senior Sydney Hayes also pointed to Schuck’s vigor, saying it’s a good change “going from someone who was very laid back” to Schuck’s more-spirited approach.

Hayes added that Schuck is a coach who “really wants to watch us improve and get us to improve.”

Junior guard Mikenna Duffy expressed similar feelings.

“He’s definitely trying to make us better and to make us better players, and win this year,” Duffy said.

And Schuck said he’s seen his new players show a desire for improvement after a 12-38 stretch over the past two years. He said this group has a “want-to.”

“They wanted to get better,” he said. “They were tired of the results they were getting the last couple of years. So, they had a purpose, everything that we did this summer, which made it a whole lot easier on my part to want to work them.”

SEEKING IMPROVEMENT ACROSS THE BOARD

Following a pair of tough seasons, there’s not one specific area that the Panthers must shore-up over another entering this season, according to Schuck. The coach said his team must continue to master the little things.

“If there’s one thing I can pin-point, I don’t think there is one thing that I can pin-point that we’ve got to improve on,” Schuck said. “We’ve just got to continue to get better in every area of the game on a daily basis.”

FINDING OTHER SCORING OPTIONS

Schuck said it’s no secret that Anderson will be the team’s main scoring option, having averaged a team-high 11 points per game last year. Opposing teams will seek to limit her touches, so the Panthers will have to find some secondary scoring options. Schuck said multiple players could step up in that department on a given night depending how teams guard the Panthers. Post player Ashlyn Thompson could be one of those players.

“If we are going to have any success in our half-court offense we must have a post presence, and I think Ashlyn Thompson has a chance to make a big impact offensively this season,” Schuck said. “We have really emphasized developing our post play every day in practice. It is a work in progress but we have been a little better each day.”

Schuck does believe this team will have depth. In fact, he called it one of the team’s biggest strengths.

“I know that may shock a lot of people, but I think we’re deeper than some people see,” he said. “I want to play 10 players. I think we’re going to be able to play 10 players.”

AIMING FOR A BOUNCE-BACK

Hayes speaks for the seniors in saying that the group seeks a strong finish to their careers. The program went to state when this year’s seniors were freshmen, but have sat at home the past two seasons during February. 

“It’s our last year, so I want to do the best that we can, have the most fun that we can,” Hayes said.

Anderson said one goal is a buy-in from the younger players as the team strives toward a bounce-back season. 

The biggest goal, overall, may simply be improvement after tough times on the court the past two seasons.

“Just to get better as a team,” Duffy said.

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