Lola Dixon set to help guide new-look Ida B. Wells girls basketball
The hardest part about sustaining a high school sports program is navigating turnover.
That's the task at hand for Ida B. Wells girls basketball's first-year head coach Glen Coblens after the Guardians graduated six seniors from last year's team and lost a couple more transfers.
The 2022-23 roster only features one senior in Lola Dixon, leaving plenty of work for Coblens and crew to maintain the solid level of play Wells has shown throughout the years and behind its talented 2022 senior class.
Sitting at 1-1 through the first two games with a 35-26 loss to Central Catholic and a 35-33 win over Glencoe, Coblens has liked what he's seen so far.
"We have a great group, great nucleus," Coblens said. "They work hard, they are totally committed to each other and they get it in terms of the closeness and connectedness."
Dixon, who also was voted a captain, echoed her coach as the team played and hung out together often over the summer with camps and other activities.
Now it's all about court time, which is something even Dixon is making sure to take to heart.
The senior missed all of last season after going down with a stress fracture in her leg from the cross country season in the fall.
Back in green and white for the 2022-23 season, she's ready to take on the leadership role that she saw displayed well by the girls before her.
"They all worked for it, and with hard work we're going to get there as well," Dixon said. "It might take a little longer since we're a newer team playing together and we're younger, but we can eventually get to where they were last year."
Where the Guardians were last year was a tie for second place in the Portland Interscholastic League and a run to the second round of the state tournament.
Needless to say, it's a high bar to reach, but Dixon is confident her crew can get there. And with a couple sophomores like Autumn Hart and Dixon's younger sister, Claire, it's easy to see why Lola has that belief.
Against Glencoe on Dec. 6, the two sophomores led the Guardians in scoring with Claire putting up 12 points and Hart posting 10. Together, they combined for five steals, five rebounds and three assists.
Hart gives the Guardians some size and a solid cutter while Claire looks to take the point guard reins from last year's star Charlotte Richman, who is now playing for Army.
"(Hart) has multiple great aspects, she's also a great leader," Lola said. "Autumn really brings everything to the table. She's a great driver, she helps us with everything, helps her teammates on the court and off the court."
Lola also said the entire young squad has been helpful in getting her back into the flow of things with her injury, and the underclassmen are all eager to learn.
And, of course, getting a chance to go out playing with her younger sister is a welcome bonus.
"I'm so proud of her and everything she does," Lola said of Claire. "She did everything to be in this position. She's earned it and I'm just proud of her. To be out there with her, last season and not hurt, it feels great."
The Guardians have four more games until the big Holiday Classic tournament hosted by the PIL on Dec. 28-30. After that, it's league season time with three automatic bids on the line to the state tournament.
All of those matchups will provide plenty of lessons, and Coblens hopes his squad takes notes the rest of the month to help prepare for league season.
"The goals have always been to continue to improve throughout the season, really peak at the end and try to play your best at the end of the season," Coblens said. "Preseason is about learning, and we're very young, so we're going to continue to learn and grow and develop as a team."
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