Tech aims to turn defense into offense

Tech's Iranis Julio dribbles the basketball during practice earlier this week. (Item Photo by Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN– Upon first glance, if you watch the Lynn Tech girls basketball team this year, you might think you’re seeing the wrong sport.

Coach Kaitlyn Wechsler wants to go up-tempo, which might make a game involving the Tigers look like girls track.

“The girls are buying into it so far, and that’s important,” said Wechsler.

Up until this year, Tech has stuck to the half-court game. She’s found that with that format, baskets have often been hard to come by. But she’s in a position where she has a core of returning players who understand the Tigers’ system of defense (straight man-to-man) well enough to move into a more open offense.

“We are trying to get more easy baskets so we don’t have to set up in a half-court offense,” she said.

For all of her tenure at Tech (this is her fifth year) Wechsler has stressed defense.

“It’s always been our main thing,” she said. “Now, it’s time to turn defense into offense. If we force a turnover the the other end, we have to be able to turn that into layup.”

Right now, she said, “our practices consist of layups, defense and transition drills. I want the girls to understand where their lanes are, and who they should be looking for on passes. It’s tough teaching girls a new system, but where we have veteran core of players, we won’t have to worry about them not knowing our system.”

Tech, 5-15 last year, has several players central to its hopes. Leading the way is Arianna Anaya, who played quite a bit last year as a shooting forward.

“I’m glad to have her back for another year,” Wechsler said. “She’s like a small forward. She’s a shooter and a driver. I’m counting on her to go to the hoop.”

Michayla Lawrence is more of a power forward.

“She’s athletic, says Wechsler, and can jump, as well as slash her way to the basket.

“We’ll be looking for a lot from her,” she said, “She’ll be responsible for a lot of the rebounding.”

Ariana Cardenas is a junior who will be stepping into more of an offensive role this year as a shooting guard.

“She worked hard over the summer, and we’re looking for a breakout season from her.”

Wechsler will alternate between two point guards. Senior Shyla Jackson, who played the position for most of last season, is a candidate.

“She’s started the season more confident in this role,” she said. “She’ll be looking to start our fast break.”

Also vying for the rule is sophomore Niyo Mwajuma, “who is showing her confidence more and more every day.

“It’s a nice situation,” she said, “to have two ball-handlers.”
Wechsler feels the Tigers have a tough schedule, both in an out of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference.

“I just tell the girls that if we buy into the system, and do the things the way we’re telling them to do, we’ll surprise some people.

“I just want to keep improving.”

The Tigers begin Friday (5:30) when they host Mystic Valley.

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