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Greg Jones

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Woodlan excels on hardwood

Woodlan boys and girls basketball teams have rewarded fans with strong starts to the season and there is the potential for even more success.

The girls team is 6-3 and more importantly is 3-0 in the ACAC and tied for the conference lead with Southern Wells. The boys are 5-1 and 1-0 in conference play.

“We are starting to get it,” said Woodlan boys coach Dave Randall, who is in his second year of his second stint at the school.

“I have a lot of kids who just want to win and do not care who gets the credit. When you have a team like that, they will buy into things like playing defense and making the extra pass. We have a balanced scoring sheet and different kids emerging every night. It’s more for the kids that way, and it makes us harder to play that way.

“You never know how things will go. I don’t know if I could have looked you in the eye and say we would be 5-1. But I knew we would be better than we were a year ago. You never know how that will translate.”

Woodlan’s girls squad got off to an 0-2 start after dropping games to Bellmont by one point and to defending Class A state champion Canterbury, but the team regrouped and won six straight before losing last week to Bishop Dwenger.

“To be honest, I was expecting to have a good year,” said Woodlan girls coach Tonya Burns-Cohrs, who is in her 13th season with the program.

“We started off rough in a loss to Bellmont by one, and it was a tough one. But maybe it was good for us because it was a kick in the behind.

“The girls worked hard this summer, and we only lost one player so we have a great core. They know me, and I know them and they know each other. The juniors and seniors have been playing together since third grade. They have that connection. It’s nice to see that since you have been watching since they were itty-bitty, and now they are young ladies. That has been fun for me.”

The boys also lost their season opener, to a good Concordia team, but have reeled off five straight wins heading into a road game tonight at defending regular-season ACAC champion Adams Central.

“Concordia blew us off the court that first night, so I didn’t really know what to expect after that,” Randall said. “Then we won a couple, and I thought we would be OK.

“You only get two weeks to start, so you can’t put everything in in two weeks, so now we are doing what I want us to do. That takes time, and it is that way for anybody else. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Last year the girls were 13-9, while the boys were 6-14. The early success has given both teams a chance to change their goals this season.

“You always set goals at the beginning of the season and obviously conference and the (ACAC) tournament are huge,” Burns-Cohrs said. “Some of them it is just getting to (Memorial) Coliseum (in the ACAC tournament Jan. 8-12). Now it is we can get to the Coliseum (for the semifinals), and let’s see if we can get to the Coliseum twice (for the finals). As we get better, they raise the bar up a little higher. It is neat for me to see them do that and have the confidence they have. They are excited, and they have been since Day 1.”

Greg Jones is the high school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email gjones@jg.net; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.

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