Caston girls basketball preview:
New coach Douglass relying on freshmen Scales, Zimpleman to handle ball
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
After winning 150 games in 10 seasons as the girls basketball coach at Riverton Parke, Josh Douglass is back home as the new coach at Caston.
And he wants the losing to end immediately.
A 1999 Caston grad, Douglass takes over a program that is coming off six straight losing seasons, and one of his first challenges was to find a point guard after the graduation of Emily Holt.
The solution is to put freshmen Isabel Scales and Addison Zimpleman into the lineup. They will be the primary ballhandlers, according to Douglass. They were part of an eighth grade team that lost only one game last year. While there are four other freshmen from that eighth grade team that will see JV time, Scales and Douglass will play varsity only.
“You’ve got to have a point guard or a guard with the ability to handle the ball,” Douglass said. “I’m not going to necessarily say I have a designated point guard because I’ve told the girls that all of you are going to have to handle the basketball for me, one way or another. The style of offense that we’re going to run, it seems like you’re all going to be able to handle it. Scales and Zimpleman stepped right into that role.”
Douglass said his philosophy has always been that if a player is good enough that they will play, regardless of grade level.
“When it comes to ballhandling, I feel those two on our team are farther ahead than most kids and have that ability to handle that pressure,” Douglass said. “They’re going to make mistakes because they’re young, but they also learn very quickly from those mistakes.”
Douglass hopes their attitudes become catchy.
“They’re competitors,” Douglass said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is. They’re competitors. And anytime you can put competitors on the floor, usually everybody follows along.”
Whoever has the ball on the perimeter will be looking at 5-10 senior Jordan Clingler in the post, and Douglass said that Clingler might be able to expand her game beyond the post as well.
“I think she could have a huge year this year,” Douglass said. “What I would really want to see her improve at is having confidence in herself to step outside of five feet and to shoot it because her shot is very pretty and then just, honestly, (having) self-confidence in herself, to know that she can do it, that she could dominate games if she really wanted to.”
The other senior is defensive specialist Layne Oliver. Olivia Boldry, another senior, has had to stop playing due to “knee issues,” according to Douglass.
Maddi Smith, Abby Williamson and Brianna Yarber are the three juniors. Smith and Williamson are returnees, and Yarber is a transfer from Rochester.
Smith is a wing whose ball skills are being revamped.
“She just goes hard all the time,” Douglass said of the 5-10 Smith. “Practice, everything, she’s just all out. The one thing if we can get her to do better is to finish. We’re working on that in practice. She needs to improve a little bit on her ballhandling … but her ability to get to the rim and finish and then again how comfortable she is to shoot the basketball. We’ve been working on her shot a lot.”
Williamson, a 5-11 junior, can score and also has the wingspan that could make her a good defender, according to Douglass.
Bailey Harness, Kinzie Mollenkopf and Emma Kay all saw time last year as freshmen. Harness has impressed Douglass after playing AAU ball over the summer.
“She is stronger, more confident, can handle the basketball,” Douglass said. “She’s an athletic big that you want that can just get up and down the court. She can step out and handle the basketball for you too. So she’s probably going to be strictly on varsity this year.”
Douglass said he’s been “surprised” by what he’s seen in practice. He said the team played “very well” against Tippecanoe Valley in the scrimmage. They played man-to-man defense and pressed in those first two quarters, and Douglass said the Lady Comets won both quarters.
Douglass, who works for Corteva Agriscience, said he left Riverton Parke for career reasons. He moved back home and now lives about two miles from Caston.
“It is my home school,” Douglass said. “I coached down south for 10 years, and when I got transferred back home here for work, I never knew if I’d be able to coach again. So when the opportunity came, I tried to jump on it.”
He counts former Caston boys coach Craig Teagle and former Knox boys coach Todd Boldry among his coaching mentors. Teagle left Caston to become the Knox boys coach in 1997. He since has won six sectionals as a coach at Jay County and Huntington North, where he currently coaches.
Boldry replaced Teagle at Knox and coached there from 1998-2012. Boldry, also a Caston grad, was Douglass’ freshman coach when he played.
“I’ve always really had a passion for basketball, and I just got into coaching, I guess,” Douglass said.
Caston is in a conference with defending Class 3A sectional champ Knox and Class 2A, No. 6 North Judson. Pioneer, last year’s Class 1A state runner-up, is in their conference and sectional.
But first, Douglass wants to have a winning season. He had eight winning seasons in 10 years at Riverton Parke.
“Get to that .500 or winning season somehow,” Douglass said. “Snap these losing seasons that we’ve had. Figure out a way to get there somehow.”