Lady Plainsmen ready to open conference play against Odessa College

Tonight the Frank Phillips College Lady Plainsmen (5-10) get WJCAC play underway hosting the Odessa College Lady Wranglers (11-5) starting at 5:45 p.m. at the BCAC.The Lady Plainsmen enter tonight’s contest surviving a tough non-conference schedule, which included road games with three top 20 teams and games with solid teams from Cochise College and Howard College.According to Lady Plainsmen Head Coach Eric Rodewald, he has liked the overall effort he has seen from the team, but is quick to point out the key for having success in conference play will be playing with more consistency, saying, “We need to be consistent and highly efficient. We have to take advantage of every opportunity and not squander chances to score. Unfortunately, we have played to the level of our competition for the most part, which if we continue will bode well since each night will be good competition.” Rodewald added, “We have to play 40 total minutes, not 30 or 32 minutes, some of our scores don’t reflect how we competed with the best teams on our schedule. We trailed 48-40 with less than 10 minutes to go versus #3 and undefeated Hutchinson and then foul trouble and fatigue got to us. We were tied at halftime with #8 Seward County and trailed for most of the game by six or seven and we took #16 New Mexico JC to the wire, down three with a minute to go. So we have shown we can compete at a high level, we must finish those games off and play a full 40 minutes of basketball.”As the season has moved along, Rodewald has been pleased to see how the players have taken ownership of the team by holding each other accountable and developing a better understanding on what it takes to succeed at this level. Rodewald talked about the leadership within the team saying, “They are holding each other accountable for their play more, which from a coaching stand point it nice. It’s good to hear them correcting their teammates and helping their teammates rather than it always coming from the coach. The biggest improvement is understanding what we need to do to be successful.”Last season one area the Lady Plainsmen struggled in during conference play was having a solid presence near the basket for easy baskets and rebounds.In order to address the problem, Rodewald brought in sophomore Amira Sallie and freshman Destiny Philips who have combined to average 14 points and 11 rebounds per game.Rodewald said the two players allow the team to have a solid presence near the basket, saying, “Both have provided an inside presence for us, unfortunately we have had some growing pains so it hasn’t been consistent although there is definite improvement. You could really see their potential in our game versus New Mexico JC. We trailed 58-55 with a minute to play at their place and they were a big part of us competing at that level. We have geared a lot more offense for the conference season towards them.”The continued improvement of the Lady Plainsmen inside game will open opportunities for the team’s outside shooting, which is in good hands led by the team’s six sophomore guards.Leading the team from the outside has been Kinjita Kelley, who is averaging just under 13 points per game, and Shardena Hudson, averaging just under 10 points per game.Wellington native La’Christa Nash has also done a good job for the team on both ends of the floor averaging 11 points, five rebounds, and three steals per game.Unfortunately for tonight’s contest, Nash and starting point guard Nancy Castillo are not expected to suit up due to injury, causing the other eight players suiting up tonight to step up.In looking at tonight’s game with Odessa College, Rodewald expects a tough challenge for his team, saying, “Odessa is pretty solid and is well rounded. We will be playing without two starters, due to injury, so we will definitely have our work cut out for us just suiting up eight players. But if we stay out of foul trouble and shoot it well I think we have as good a chance as any to win.”