GREENCASTLE -- With an 0-2 start to the season, the South Putnam Eagles girls' team is looking to rely on its youth to provide the spark and lift them to a successful season.
South Putnam will look to its lone senior, Jessica Thompson, to lead the way and set the tone for an experienced, yet young team this season. Another aspect that will help the Eagles is the enthusiasm they took in their summer workouts
"We're really young again this year," head coach Debbie Steffy said. "We have 19 kids on the roster -- one senior, two juniors, eight sophomores and eight freshmen. It's been an interesting two weeks of practice.
"We had really good turnout this summer. We had, on an average, 15 girls here every day we had workouts and most of them are here now. They worked really hard, but right now it's a lot of teaching -- trying to teach offense, out of bounds plays and things like that. It's been a lot of teaching," she added.
Steffy noted the team will need focus on getting good at what it can already do and then she can begin to add to it. She will also be looking at some impressive junior varsity players to play some minutes on varsity this season.
While young, South Putnam's core group of juniors and sophomores saw significant action last season, and some new faces will round out the team this season.
"You have to look at, three of the kids that are on the varsity, the sophomores, they played a lot of minutes last year on the varsity, so we do expect a lot out of them," Steffy explained. "We have Ericka Minor as a sophomore moving up to the varsity this year. She didn't play a lot for us last year, but she did get a lot of minutes in with us this summer with us when we went to shoot-outs and stuff like that.
"We're young and we still make young mistakes, but we do have a little experience to go with that youth too," she said.
An aspect of the game the Eagles' will look to exploit this season is their speed. The good thing for South Putnam is it isn't just their guards who will be pressing up and down the floor this season.
"Even our post players look to get up and down and run the floor, which that's a nice thing when you're talking about going to press people. It gives us a little flexibility with our press, being able to move some of our bigger people up to the front of the press or put them in the back. We're not just set on where they have to be because they can't move from a trap to another trap. It gives us flexibility in that respect.
"It gives us flexibility on offense too with the fast break and things like that, so it's going to work to our advantage," she said.
As far as changing things up, Steffy said the look of the Eagles will be much of the same, but there will some new things as they are adjusted for personnel.
The Eagles have already battled Rockville and Edgewood and will next compete in the Putnam County Tournament Friday. With so many games at the beginning of the season, Steffy believes it definitely prepares her team for the end of the season.
"It really does help prepare us," she said. "It's nice to see how the kids will respond to those high pressure situations early on in the season, because if in the county tourney in particular, if we have trouble with those high pressure situations, it gives us an entire 16 more games to be able to work on those things in practice. With having a young group, you never know how they're going to respond.
"I really do like that we have those big games right up front of the season," Steffy reiterated.
Steffy acknowledged it should be an exciting season for Eagles fans. She commented the team is wanting to play hardnosed defense and be aggressive on the offensive side of the ball.
The Eagles will host the Putnam County Tournament Friday at 6 p.m.