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Richards girls basketball team hopes to get on fast track

Richards girls basketball coach Jeff Kortz

Richards girls basketball coach Jeff Kortz

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Taylor Sonichsen looks around practice, looks around the locker room and doesn’t see a whole lot of height.

The senior guard on the Richards High School girls basketball team isn’t worried, though. Sonichsen and the Bulldogs are ready for a challenge.

“We’re going to try and work as a team,” Sonichsen said. “We are not that tall, maybe not that strong, but as a team, we are pretty fast. We’ll try and put pressure on defenses. There’s still something at Richards.”

Sonichsen and sophomore guard-forward Sydni Tears will be huge keys for a Richards squad coming off a disappointing 2012-13 campaign. The Bulldogs finished 10-15 overall, losing to T.F. North 53-43 in a Class 4A regional semifinal.

The team was 3-7 through its first 10 games this season, as of Dec. 18.

Gone for Richards is star guard Georgia Danos (now playing at Eastern Illinois), who did a little bit of everything for the squad, averaging 17.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and two steals per game last season. The Bulldogs also lost second-leading scorer Allison Stazak (7.7 points).

Ready to step into the spotlight in the backcourt, Sonichsen, who was averaging 5.9 points per game through 10 games, is prepared for the challenge that comes with being a senior.

“Playing with Georgia, she taught me a lot,” Sonichsen said. “She showed what she expected of me as a leader, and now I can do that and be there. We’ll do fine. I’m used to being a leader, and I’m excited for the year.”

Sonichsen averaged a team-high three assists per game last season, and coach Jeff Kortz trusts his senior guard to get the offense going again this year.

Meanwhile, Tears — just a sophomore — was handling an increased workload well, leading the team with her averages of 14.2 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

“Sydni will hopefully have some big-time boards and buckets for us,” Sonichsen said.

Entering his 13th season as the girls basketball head coach, Kortz had piled up a 177-134 record. Last season was only the third time in Kortz’s tenure the Bulldogs finished under .500.

Looking to turn things around, Kortz, who is also the quarterbacks coach for the football team, will count on team speed and depth.

“We’re always looking to get over .500, get the girls into the system and contributing, that’s the biggest thing,” Kortz said. “We’ve got some players in young spots so we’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get that confidence, maybe surprise some people.”

Along with Sonichsen and Tears, Richards is looking to Carly Stazak (5.7 points, 3.1 assists) to play a key supporting role.

“We expect this group to do some good things,” Kortz said. “We need some girls to step up, do some things, but whatever happens, it won’t be for lack of trying.”



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