Youth movement underway for Indees

Independence/Gilmanton girls basketball coach John Zilla isn’t worried about incorporating players from Gilmanton into his system simply because almost every player on his roster is relatively new. 

This season will be the first in which Independence and Gilmanton have teamed up for girls basketball. The Gilmanton squad had to forfeit several games down the stretch last year because it did not have enough players to field a team. There are just four players from Gilmanton joining the Independence team, three are freshmen and the other is a sophomore. 

But those aren’t the only young players on the roster. Of the 22 players Zilla has, 20 are freshmen or sophomores. 

“With all of our youth this year, it should be a pretty easy transition for (players from Gilmanton) to adapt to our system because we will be teaching a new system to almost half of our roster,” Zilla said. “The first few days our young girls have been quick learners.”

The two leading scorers from the Independence team, Ahnna Bautch and Amiah Ives, both graduated. As did the team’s fourth- and fifth-leading scorers — Rhianna Theisen and Callie Zastrow. Zilla still has a solid core returning, while some of the players weren’t high scorers, that’s largely because they were just freshmen last year. 

Zilla said the two upperclassmen, junior Kassidy Dejno and senior Adison Pronschinske, will be “great role models and excellent team leaders.” Pronschinske is in her fourth year on the varsity squad, the guard was third on the team in scoring last year. 

The longtime Independence coach played a handful of freshmen last year. He said he’s looking forward to seeing the development of Arabelle Kniseley, Makiyah Scow, Taylor Sylla and Avery Halama. He expects some freshmen to crack the rotation as well.

With the youth, Zilla said there may be a learning curve at the start of the year, but they should improve.

“I’m hoping to field a competitive athletic team this year and the goal right now is to hopefully improve each week and surprise some teams toward the middle and end of the year,” Zilla said. 

While it may take time to get used to playing together and learning assignments, Zilla said his team will be quick and athletic. 

“Most of our athletes run the floor very well and have a very good basketball IQ,” Zilla said. “I think we will be a very good defensive team that forces a lot of turnovers with our pressure.”

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