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HERALD 2010-11 PREP BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Lady Trojans may have lost some talent -- but have plenty to replace it

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

LEESBURG -- Seventy-nine percent of the Lee County's Lady Trojans' offense is gone from last year's playoff team.

Head coach Fran McPherson, in her third season, knew she'd lose a big chunk, but the Lady Trojans didn't think they'd lose that much. The departure of the school's all-time leading scorer, current Shorter University freshman Lindsey Crawford, was expected due to graduation.

"That's a really big hole to fill," junior guard Natalie Shiver said.

Then came the unexpected. Remember towering inside force DaQuenna Moore? She was gone, too.

Moore, Lee's second-leading scorer and rebounder last season, was expected to provide some of the punch missing from Crawford's absence, but Moore moved to Texas with her family in the offseason.

"Losing DeQuenna was hard, but I think we'll get through it this year," said junior Heather Besson, who will help fill the gaping hole in the Lady Trojans' post. "It was a shock because (Moore) played volleyball with me, too. I'm going to miss her."

That leaves Lee, a Class AAAA Sweet 16 team a year ago, with just one six-footer, although she sports a familiar last name: 6-foot-2 sophomore Karly Crawford, Lindsey's sister. But to start out, Karly has a shoulder injury and will likely miss two-to-three weeks, McPherson said.

That means, at least initially, the strength of Lee County in 2010-11 will likely be in its guard play with the return of senior Jessica Clinton, third on the team in scoring a year ago. Senior guard Carle Ely also is back with plenty of experience after starting on last year's playoff team.

A preseason scrimmage, however, may shake the lineup a little and get more playing time for some of the younger players.

"The younger team beat the older team (in the scrimmage), actually blew them off the court," McPherson said. "We have a bunch of younger kids that we like their hustle and their enthusiasm. That's pretty exciting."

Shiver was one of those that excelled in the preseason, while sophomores Brandi Blount and Suzanne Wynn were applauded for their hustle in the scrimmage by McPherson and may have earned extra playing time early as the starting five shakes out. Freshmen Katherine McConnell and Kayla Cooper, although inexperienced, could also see the floor.

"A bunch of young girls are going to have to step up and take on roles, but we're prepared," Shiver said.

Besson and fellow junior Chaz Tookes will provide the majority of minutes in the middle left by Lindsey Crawford and Moore. They know replacing the offense and rebounding of those two won't be easy, though.

"It's not going to be just one person," Besson said. "It will have to be a combination (of players)."

Coaches feel like Besson, a 5-11 forward, has the potential to blossom.

"I think the sky is the limit with her," McPherson said. "She's got a great touch on the ball. If she'll just get in there and get physical, she may be the surprise in the area this year. She just has to gain confidence and demand the ball."

With new starters in the front court, the Lady Trojans' hope the three remaining seniors -- Clinton, Ely and even newcomer forward Asia Burks -- can help lead a young team.

And help fans forget about that missing 79 percent.