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Titans thrive on unity en route to 15-1 start to the season

By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Dec. 6, 2011 at 6:06 a.m.

Kendall Carter goes up for a layup after receiving a pass from Julia Stastny during practice on Monday at Victoria East High School

Do not ask Yulonda Wimbish-North how many points she scored in Texas' 1986 national championship basketball game.

She does not know.

She does not care.

Although she was one of five players to post a double-digit scoring total against Southern California in the title game that capped off the Longhorns' undfeated season, the Victoria East girls basketball coach knows it is teams, not individuals, that become ingrained in history.

"I bet you, nobody can tell you how many points I had in that game," Wimbish-North said. "They don't (care).

"That stuff is not even really important. If anybody is going to remember anything, they are going to remember that your team won a championship."

That is the singular mentality Wimbish-North is trying to instill within the Titans.

So far, it is working.

In the first 16 games of the season, East suffered just one defeat, winning 15 games by an average of 24.3 points with six victories determined by at least 30 points.

While seniors Adelaide Wenzel and Danielle Franklin are both averging double figures to lead East's offense, six other players are producing between three to seven points apiece, providing the Titans with a balanced attack.

In addition to sharing the ball, the Titans - ranked 11th in the current Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll - are dedicated to sharing minutes.

According to Wimbish-North, the approach is the biggest change from last year when the Titans advanced to the regional semifinals before falling to Vista Ridge.

"At first, it was hard for them to accept, but I think now they are seeing that we need to play everyone because, in a lot of games, we have just worn people down," the coach said.

Every opportunity she gets, Wimbish-North emphasizes the importance of team defense.

She reminds her players constantly how defensive intensity can carry a team when shots are not falling.

The continual attention to defense has resulted in eight players averaging at least a steal per game as the Titans have held opponents below 55 points in all but four contests.

As a team, East is also blocking more than four shots per game while five players contribute at least four rebounds per contest.

"When I see us feeling good on defense, it makes me happy," Titans' leading scorer Wenzel said. "It gets me going."

Franklin, who is averaging a team-high 4.5 steals agrees.

"(When we play good defense as a team,) it makes me want to compete even more," the senior guard said. "It takes a lot of running (during practice), so we don't get as tired as other teams do."

With a well-rounded offense and stingy defense serving as its foundation, players have high expectations for the remainder of the season.

"Of course, we are going to state," Wenzel said tongue in cheek.

"We plan on winning them all," Franklin added of the team's remaining schedule.

Wimbish-North refuses to be as outspoken regarding the team's potential, but she too believes this season could produce a deep postseason run.

"I think this team can do some special things," the coach said. "We are looking at trying to go all the way."

Should the Titans wind up being the lone Class 4A team left standing at the end of the season, they would join five other Victoria girls programs to win a state basketball championship, including Wimbish-North's 1981-82 team.

And, most likely, nobody would remember which Titan scored the most points.

Clay Whittington is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6507 or cwhittington@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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