2023-24 girls basketball preview-Morgan County

Nov. 20—First-year coach Jordan Brangers wants to use his new team's versatility to their advantage.

The Morgan County players and the coaching staff got to know one another over the summer and after Brangers's early assessment of his Cougars, they can adapt to any style of play.

"I think the transition has been pretty smooth," Brangers said. "They took a little time to adjust to my system and how I want to play. We have built a pretty good chemistry. Everything has been smooth so far."

"Fans can expect a little bit of everything," he added. "In some games, we will get up and down the floor and run and gun. In some games, we will slow the tempo down and sit down and guard and run our offense. I don't want to have one particular set style because everybody has a different type of team and players. I want to be able to switch it up."

Brangers will have personnel that can score from multiple spots on the floor. It helps open up the offense when you have frontcourt players that can stretch the court and guards that can take it to the tin.

"We have a lot of versatile players," Brangers said. "We have bigs that can step out and shoot and they can play inside as well. Our guards are really quick and they can make shots. It's going to be a lot of fun switching styles of play."

Leading scorer and floor leader Jenna Hampton decided not to return to the basketball court for her final season. But Brangers feels he will have several players ready to step into bigger roles and replace Hampton's 22 points and 7.5 rebounds a contest last year.

"Jenna Hampton was a tremendous talent," Brangers said. "It's a little dropoff but when you bring back Maci Adkins who hit 119 3s, Emma Clinger who nearly averaged a double-double, McKenna Smith nearly averaged a double-double, it is huge. Gracie Hampton has made tremendous strides with her play and as far as being a leader. She can score the basketball and be a playmaker for others."

"Sara Jenkins and Lily Litteral saw a lot of minutes (last year)," he continued. "The biggest thing for us is bringing back Autumn Ross. She's our only senior. She will give us that senior leadership. She has varsity experience. For her to be that captain this year and lead us in that direction, it will be good."

Adkins posted double figures last season at 13.2 points a game and made 31% of her shots from 3-point range. Clinger's average hovered around 10 and she grabbed eight boards a night. Smith's scoring average nearly reached double digits. The trio looks to increase their scoring numbers as Morgan County attempts to produce the success they had last season.

The Cougars recorded 18 wins and a 62nd District championship. Morgan County added a victory in the region tournament and has its sights set on a deeper postseason run.

"They know what to expect and it will make a quicker transition," Brangers said. "They made it to the region semifinals last year. and won the district as well. It's a lot of expectations. They have a target on their back. I believe they know that. They know what to expect and they know the tempo and the pace, physicality. We have been working extremely hard. I credit them for all of that."

As the offense takes off, Morgan County has the tools to play an aggressive style of defense when the need arises, according to their coach.

"I want my guards to be able to pressure the basketball without fouling," Brangers said, "keeping everybody in front of them. We have some size and honestly, we will be able to switch one through five. When you play a different team, they have different capabilities. Sometimes we look to play a little zone and we also want to pressure."