Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy
Conference: 2A Central Idaho League
Head Coach: Doug Grant
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: 15 years
Record Last Year: 11-11
Abby Bartlett (Sr, G)
Mae Alexander (Jr, G)
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Sr. Post Amelia Lehosit, injury
Incoming “impact” players:
Kelly Ruebke (Jr, G)
Emma Bartlett (Fr)
Elizabeth Lehosit (Fr)
Fourth-year head coach Doug Grant knows his team is a little bit undersized. He also knows his team is a little bit inexperienced. But that doesn’t stop the Coeur d’Alene Charter Panthers bench boss from seeing positives with his squad.
“Our athleticism and the unity I see so far with this group,” Grant told IdahoSports.com when asked about his team. “They all work together and work hard.”
Grant hopes his team’s lack of size and experience gets a boost after the first of the year with the return of senior post player Amelia Lehosit, who is currently out with a concussion. Head injuries are a hot button issue and, showing how seriously the Panthers are taking Lehosit’s long-term health, Grant says she won’t return to the lineup until January, “at the soonest.”
In the meantime, the Panthers will go to battle with a young, small team. Grant does have guards Abby Bartlett, a senior, and Mae Alexander, a junior, in the backcourt. Junior Kelly Ruebke will see an expanded role this season and a pair of freshmen – Emma Bartlett and Elizabeth Lehosit – will get valuable playing time that should pay dividends as the season goes on.
“We are a guard-heavy team with a lot of quickness and a little game savvy,” Grant said. “We will see how quickly we can gel as a unit.”
That means perimeter play is key to the Panthers’ hopes this season.
“We have better perimeter shooting than we have had in the past,” he observed. “With no true post players on the team, we will look to get even better with our pressure D and perimeter shooting.”
The schedule could play into Grant’s favor somewhat early in the campaign. The Panthers play seven of their first nine games at home, which could help ease some of the inexperience. However, the flip side of that coin is that the team immediately follows up that stretch with eight of ten on the road.
The Panthers will need every bit of experience they can get – a full return to health of the elder Lehosit would be a big boost, too – for that stretch, which includes conference road games at Orofino, Grangeville and St. Maries.
There’s no rule that says Coeur d’Alene Charter can’t compete this season.
A big key will be how fast the younger players acclimate to the higher level of play. If that happens and if the team continues its improvement on the perimeter, the Panthers could surprise some teams now and have plenty of reason for optimism for the future.