In his eighth year as the Flowing Wells girls basketball coach, Michael Perkins may be facing his toughest challenge yet.
Gone is Lyndsay Leikem, a two-time Arizona Daily Star Player of the Year, along with four other graduated seniors.
Leikem, now a freshman at Indiana, led the Caballeros to a state championship appearance and a 29-5 record last season. She also led her team in almost every statistical category.
Perkins returns six girls from last season’s squad, but just three have tallied significant minutes. On top of having a young team, the Caballeros are riddled with injuries, and are currently without about seven players.
“We’re going to be going through a little transition period here early in the season,” Perkins said. “Hopefully, at the end of the year, we get healthy. Then, maybe we can start to replace some of” Leikem’s production.
The Star recently sat down with the Caballeros to find out how to replace Leikem. Here are three players the who will need to step up and fill the void:
What she does well: Fernander averaged 10.9 points and 2.2 steals per game last season.
As a track and cross-country runner, Fernander uses her speed and athletic ability to her advantage. Defensively, she’s often asked to guard the opponent’s best player.
She said it: “We need to communicate with one another and let each other know that we are there. We all need to be on the same page to play defense. You can’t just have one person playing defense and hope that it all comes together. We all need to play together.”
What she does well: Cook is viewed as the team’s natural leader, and is always giving tips to her teammates. She’s recovering from a knee injury, but will be back soon. Cook averaged 5.7 points and 2.5 steals per game as a junior.
She can score from inside or can step back and hit a mid-range jumper. The Caballeros use her to roam the paint on defense and to keep the ball out of the lane.
She said it: “I try to be able to play every position, not just the post. We are short on girls, so I try to be able to handle the ball well, and be able to shoot well. I want my team to be able to depend on me. I try to do everything.”
Position: Point guard
What she does well: Brinsfield is the team’s main ball handler and she’s a pass-first guard. She tries to get her teammates in the right position for them to get open shots, but she can score in the paint or from outside.
Perkins is looking at Brinsfield to become a more aggressive player on offense and to up her scoring average from 4.2 points a game last season, when she also averaged 2 assists and 2.4 steals per contest.
She said it: “I need to drive more. I need to not only orchestrate the players on offense, but I need to take shots myself. I need to get my players open to take more shots.”