Skyler Zimmerman inherits a situation with the West Nodaway girls basketball team where the team’s win total has grown each of the last four seasons and the first-year head coach’s goal is to continue that improvement this season.
“We have already picked up where we left off last season and they improved a lot last season and over the last five years,” Zimmerman said. “We are building off that and trying to improve even more.”
After two-straight winless seasons, the Rockets won one game in 2015-2016, three games in 2016-2017 and last season with head coach Taylor Dameron they increased that total to eight games. Zimmerman was the assistant coach last year.
Zimmerman also has the advantage of returning four starters from last season’s team including two of the most experienced post players in the area with senior Brittany McIntyre and junior Lexi Moore.
McIntyre served as a swiss-army knife last season in Dameron’s system as she brought the ball down the floor on occasion, but also was a weapon in the paint.
“I like being a leader because I like helping out others,” McIntyre said on being a senior. “It feels good to be able to help out the younger players.”
Moore was a more traditional post player for the Rockets last season and improved as an option under the basket all season.
“With Lexi and Brittany coming back, they are going to be forces in the post for us,” Zimmerman said.
The biggest question mark on the team comes from who will take over the primary point guard responsibilities with leading scorer and all-conference honorable mention selection Alissa Nelson graduating. The leading candidates are sophomore Erin Cook and freshman Piper Hunt.
“It is different not having Alissa, but we have two girls that can step into her spot pretty well,” McIntyre said. “They are doing really well.”
Cook had a similar experience to her head coach last season as she was able to learn from her predecessor. Cook played mostly from the two-guard position with Nelson shouldering a bulk of the play-making duties.
“Her physicality as a small guard is very good,” Zimmerman said. “Most people her size don’t want to get in the post and post other guards up, but she is willing to do that.”
The Rockets have options in the backcourt however with Hunt having an impressive start in her preseason practices with the team.
“We may run a two-guard set with Erin and Piper,” Zimmerman said.
However the guard situation shakes out, they will have experience on the wing to complement them with senior Chloe Schimming as a returning starter and senior Mackenzie Finney coming back with plenty of experience.
The Rockets play in the Platte Valley Invitational this week and they enter that tournament with some clear goals. If they are able to beat DeKalb in DeKalb on Monday at 4 p.m., they would earn a spot in one of the medal games on Friday at Bearcat Arena.
“As a team, our first goal is to play in Bearcat Arena by winning that first game in the PVI Tournament,” Moore said. “I think we are on the road to get there.”