Knoxville girls to try a new offense

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Knoxville girls' head basketball coach Jim Uitermarkt talks to his team during a scrimmage against Ottumwa. (photo by Steve Woodhouse)

The Knoxville Panther varsity girls’ basketball team is trying out a new offense this year. Head Coach Jim Uitermarkt says the goal is to make everyone assume that all players on the court are a threat to make a shot.

“If we want to become better, we’ve got to get more out of everyone,” Uitermarkt said.

The Panthers are coming into the 2019-20 season as defending South Central Conference Champs. The core of the team coming back include Division I recruit Katie Keitges, and juniors Tara Uitermarkt, Marley McKay, Maggie Wilkins and sophomore Charlie Heffron. Uitermarkt said practice has shown that this year’s freshman class will offer some depth as well.

One of the challenges the Panthers will face this year – in addition to everyone learning a new offense – will be having fewer student athletes in uniform. Uitermarkt says there are 20 girls out, and only those mentioned earlier in the story have varsity experience. It’s possible some girls will go right from playing eighth grade to varsity.

“We don’t really have any choice,” Uitermarkt said. “We’re confident they’re our best choices.”

Freshmen Uitermarkt expects big things from include Emma Dunkin, Norah Pearson, Melanie Sullivan and Laney Mart. They were all in the mix at the time of our interview.

“I have confidence in those young kids,” Uitermarkt said. “It’s just going to take some time.”

The big question Uitermarkt before going into tonight’s (Nov. 26) official season opener against PCM is the rotation and finding depth. Last year, PCM gave the Panthers a tough game.

Through the season, Uitermarkt hopes to have a JV1 and JV2 team. Many students will play multiple levels. These athletes are allowed to play six quarters each night.

Uitermarkt believes the rest of the conference will pick Knoxville to take the conference again. Centerville, Davis County and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont are all expected to be tough. Even if the Panthers win the SCC again, Uitermarkt says, “It isn’t going to be easy.”

PCM and Van Meter present strong competition early in the season. The Panthers will have a target on their back, but as long as players stay healthy and avoid foul trouble in the game, it should be another good Panther girls’ basketball season.

Special dates to put on your calendar for this season include Jan. 4, when the Knoxville boys and girls will play Newton at Wells Fargo Arena. For those interested, the Twin Cedars girls’ basketball team will also play at the arena earlier that day. Of course, Jan. 25 is the annual Coaches vs. Cancer event, with the boys and girls facing off against Chariton.