It’s a new era for Jefferson-Morgan girls basketball, as Albert Gallatin graduate and former coach Dawn Spence will take over the coaching reigns for the Lady Rockets this season.
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity at Jefferson,” Spence said. “This program has a winning tradition and I want to add to that. I took the last three years off from coaching. I just needed a break and to hit the reset button. I’m looking forward to this season and to the girls.”
Spence explained that she wants the identity of this team this year and beyond to be that of a defensive-oriented squad.
“We have to bring the defensive intensity every night,” she said. “We can’t take any nights off on defense and that has to be our calling card. I always preach on defense about playing up into somebody’s gut. You can’t give your opponent any space. You have to be aggressive.”
The Lady Rockets are coming off their fifth straight year of making the postseason. Over the last three seasons, J-M has compiled a record of 50-19.
J-M was 10-13 overall a season ago and finished 6-4 in Section 2-A play. The Lady Rockets tied with Geibel Catholic for second place in the section behind first-place West Greene.
Their 2016-17 season ended in the first round of the Class A playoffs after a setback to Sewickley Academy.
Despite being in her first year with the program, Spence is excited about the team’s chances in the section that also includes Avella, Mapletown and Monessen.
“I think the section has six strong teams in it,” Spence said. “I think we can surprise some teams and hopefully compete every night in the section. We know this is a process, but we are looking to build momentum and consistency out of the gates this season.”
J-M will also have to battle the numbers game this season, as so far in camp the Lady Rockets only have eight players on their roster.
Senior forward Katey Wolfe and senior guard Krista McCartney are key catalysts for the team this season at both ends of the floor.
“We are definitely small with our numbers, but we have to overcome that,” Spence said. “It’s a clean slate for everyone here and we are looking ahead to the future. We must get contributions from everyone. Our younger players will definitely get some playing time this year for us.
“Katey is a strong leader for us and will have to give us good minutes in the post. Krista is a great shooter and she plays with a lot of confidence. Those two must step up and lead this team.”
J-M will kick off the season at the Sto-Rox/Northgate Tournament on Dec. 8-9 and will also participate in the three-day Christmas Tournament at California on Dec. 27-29.
The Lady Rockets start their Section 2-A schedule at defending champion and Greene County rival West Greene on Dec. 21.