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Lady Devils gear up for season

By By Matthew Nascone
There are some similarities and differences in the Escambia County girls' basketball team of 2006-07 and the team of 2005-06. One main difference is a new head coach. Todd Reynolds was hired to take the spot vacated by last year's coach, Christy Nall.
Reynolds said he has attempted to change the attitude and style of play at ECHS.
"We have a very versatile group this year," Reynolds said. "And I have changed the way Escambia County girls basketball will be played. We will run a "run and gun" style offense this year. The team's versatility plays into that concept well because I will be able to mix and match formations and players on the court whenever I need to."
Reynolds said the senior leadership on the team will be key to the team's success.
"We are returning four starters and we will rely heavily on the seniors to lead on the court," Reynolds said. "We have the potential to have three college recruits after the season is over."
Those big three seniors will be Jasmine Sanders, Ashley Kidd and Ashanti Jones. The fourth returning starter is sophomore Courtney English. Rounding out the starting five for the Lady Devils is sophomore Latesha Lee.
"Each of my starters can all dribble the ball well, run fast and execute the run and gun," Reynolds said.
The way Reynolds will mix and match formations and positions while the girls are on the court is for one purpose.
"We always have to look toward the future," he said. "And when we have some girls who can play multiple positions, I want to get the younger girls reps at positions they are not used to so we can keep the versatility alive in the future."
There is another upside to having a versatile group.
"With our versatility, it will be hard to press us because, for instance, Courtney can get the rebound and lead the way on the fast break," Reynolds said.
Reynolds was hired as the new head girls' coach shortly after the ECHS class of 2006 departed from Atmore in May. Since then he has partnered with boys' head basketball coach Jerome Antone to host the "We Love to Run" basketball camp in the summer and he has had his girls on a strict program to get them ready for this season.
And he said the girls are adjusting to his way of running the program.
"They are growing and learning the schemes I have laid out for them," he said. "And the schemes are based on the individual athletes' athleticism. I design the plays and then I let them run with it and I believe this will work well for us this year."
The defensive scheme at ECHS has also been changed. This year the team will run a full court press to try and score a lot of points in transition. The Lady Devils will press the opposition and Reynolds believes this scheme plays into the depth on the bench.
"We have a simple philosophy on defense, press the ball," he said. "I know we will have a lot of points generated in transition. With our style of play we have the capability to go eight deep and we have enough depth to keep a high quality team on the court at all times."
Without goals there would be nothing to strive for in a season, and Reynolds has his own set for his girls.
"My goal is to win the area and make it to Birmingham for the first time in school history," Reynolds said. "We want to establish ourselves as the predominant team in Class 4A in this part of the state. I want to sell the concept that if we work hard, good things will happen. This is a special group of young ladies and we are looking to go all the way."
The Lady Devils open the season on the road against Hillcrest on Nov. 20. Tip-off is set for 4:45 p.m. The first home game for ECHS is Nov. 28 against border rival Northview High School.