PREVIEW: Phoenix girls want to faster, more aggressive

By Erik Andrews - For the News-Tribune

The first Oberlin team to kick off the winter season, the Phoenix girls lost 46-21 on opening night to the Vermilion Sailors under the watchful eye of first-year head coach Tiffany Shields.

Shields comes to Oberlin after several years of assistant coaching in both the high school and collegiate ranks, most recently at her alma mater, Hiram College. The 2012 Terrier alumna has been working with the young and inexperienced Phoenix, who look to stride forward from last year-s challenging two-win campaign.

Back to help build the foundation are seniors Kiah Fields, Danielle Amato, and Cameron Payne.

Payne and sophomore Victoria Jackson are the two leading scorers returning from last year’s team. Both will look to increase their numbers and set up their teammates to contribute more to the point parade than in years past.

On the sideline and in practice sessions, Shields is getting some seasoned help. Assistant coach David Payne has been working with various Oberlin teams for years and knows many of the players’ skills and tendencies well. Assistant coach Brianna Stevenson was a part of the Oberlin team that last won the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes title back in 2008.

Leading up to the contest against the Sailors, Shields was pleased with the progress the team is making. “We’re a young team again this year and will lean on our seniors for their leadership on and off the court,” she said.

As for development during the preseason practice, she said the Phoenix “are looking to play a bit faster and be more aggressive on the defensive end, hopefully generate a few turnovers that can lead to some quick points. We have a tough conference, but we think we can definitely improve on last year. I think the girls are ready for some game action and to take the next step.”

Oberlin travels to Keystone on Saturday to open PAC play, then heads to Brooklyn on Dec. 6 before returning home to face Valley Forge on Dec 9.

By Erik Andrews

For the News-Tribune