Lincoln girls’ basketball eyes progression entering offseason

Tak­ing some time to re­flect on a suc­cess­ful sea­son, MIke Tur­chi was not about to rest on his laurels.

Sure, the Lin­coln head girls bas­ket­ball coach had plenty to be happy about after an 11-5 sea­son and a trip to the Class AAAA semi­finals, where the Railsplit­ters lost by 23 to Cent­ral. Led by ex­plos­ive scor­ing seni­or guards Ty­shell Jessie and Aaliyah Thur­man, Lin­coln won a play­off game, as well as sev­en of its fi­nal nine games.

But Tur­chi is not in­ter­ested in a re­gres­sion without his two play­ers next sea­son, that much is cer­tain.

“We had a very good sea­son as far as wins and losses go,” he said. “Over­all I’m happy that we had two cap­tains who could score as our lead­ers, and I’m so happy how we came to­geth­er in the second half … but I think we could have played bet­ter.”

While Lin­coln did win more than it lost, the Railsplit­ters went 0-4 against Cent­ral, North­east and Frank­lin Towne Charter, the oth­er Class AAAA semi­final­ists. Tur­chi is hop­ing that prom­ising ju­ni­or for­ward Kel­li­cia “Kelli” Brown takes the reins from Jessie and Thur­man as a lead­er next sea­son, and that a prom­ising fresh­man such as Karla Wil­li­ams, who got play­ing time this sea­son, steps up to com­ple­ment Brown.

That, Tur­chi main­tained, will only hap­pen with off­season ded­ic­a­tion.

“They have to get in­volved in clin­ics or start play­ing with AAU teams in the sum­mer,” he said. “I have some re­sources for them, but they have to be will­ing to make an ef­fort in­to play­ing all year round. It’s not just, oh, we play dur­ing the sea­son, then we drop it. That hurts de­vel­op­ment. They need to see a bas­ket­ball out­side of gym class or at a rec cen­ter. I think we need to pay more at­ten­tion to tech­nic­al skills, ball skills, jump­ing, re­bound­ing, strength, just everything that goes in­to off­season con­di­tion­ing.”

An­oth­er thing Tur­chi hopes chal­lenges his re­turn­ing play­ers is re­align­ment with­in the Pub­lic League. He said that re­cently the head coaches of the league got to­geth­er and voted to align di­vi­sions how they are on the boys side, with the strongest-qual­ity pro­grams com­pet­ing in the top di­vi­sion. That, Tur­chi said, will elim­in­ate more cup­cakes from the sched­ule and al­low his team to nev­er take a game off, no mat­ter the op­pos­i­tion.

“All of the coaches agree in that they want the girls get­ting bet­ter so that they can pre­pare for col­lege,” he said. “The way to do that is to see the best com­pet­i­tion our league has to of­fer. Blow­ing out teams, that doesn’t help our girls. We want to play the best so that hope­fully we can be­come the best.”

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