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Lady Gators looking to come together
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Puzzle pieces scattered on the floor are a mixed-up, jumbled-up mess of individual slices of something bigger.
    But when the pieces are placed in the correct positions, the individual portions mesh together and become one, making each little part of equal importance. Only when all the pieces come together is the puzzle complete.
    That’s how Bulloch Academy first-year coach Paul Webb hopes his girls’ basketball team will come together … like the pieces of a puzzle.         The Lady Gators kick off the 2006-07 season Saturday night in the Lady Gator Classic, taking on Thomas Jefferson Academy at 7:30 p.m. St. Andrews and David Emanuel Academy kick off the four-team tournament at 6 p.m. The tournament resumes on Tuesday with a consolation game at 3:30 p.m. and the championship game at 5 p.m.
    “Our success this season will be determined, not from any star player, but from the entire team,” said Webb, a long-time local girls’ basketball mentor who returns to the hardwoods this season. “We hope to build on the foundation that Coach (Jim) Higgins laid over the past two seasons.”
    But gone from Higgins’ teams are post players Katie Rich, Ashley Conner and Christie Mallard, a front-court trio that could rule the middle when the mood struck them.
    Instead, this year’s squad will mainly be composed of young, quick guards and small but scrappy post players. Webb has just one returning starter, senior guard Kacie Lanier, and two others, junior Abi Foy and sophomore Addie Reddick, who saw significant playing on his 14-girl roster. Sophomore Kaylee Lanier sat out the beginning of last season with a knee injury but she and Reddick showed a lot of promise as the season wound down.
    Still, a new coach means new ways of doing things.
    “The girls have been very receptive to the changes that we have made in regards to offense, defense and the transition game,” said Webb, who cut his teeth in the coaching world at Bulloch Academy while still in college 20 years ago. “They are working hard and have a great attitude.”
    Other returners for the Lady Gators who saw limited action last season include juniors Kate Martin and Julianna Rabeler and sophomores Bonnie Hanna and Kinsley Mallard. Incoming freshmen include Heaven Hinton, Kate Anna Akins, Kristin Deal, Sally Smith, Kaylee Dennard, Kelcie Jacobs, Laynie Brown, Mary Catherine Spigener and Morgan Anderson. With such an athletic group of underclassmen, the Lady Gators’ B-team should be strong and become a great learning device for future varsity players.
    The Lady Gators, according to Webb, will use their speed to get down the floor quickly and score.
    “We don’t have a dominant post player so we will need to run more of a transition style of offense,” said Webb. “This year’s team will have to play an up-tempo style of basketball to be successful. I plan to play a lot of players early in the season to see who rises to the top and wants a regular, starting job.”
    Bulloch Academy alum and former boys’ basketball standout Scott Cram will return to his old stomping grounds to help Webb with both the varsity and B-team programs.
    “The main thing,” said Webb, “is that there’s going to be a period of time for the girls to understand what we are trying to accomplish. There are a variety of things, from offense to defense to cheering and supporting your teammates.”