Farrar expects youth to meet expectations
GREEN FOREST -- Green Forest basketball coach Kyle Farrar leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to his expectations of the Lady Tigers.
"Our goal is to make it back to the state tournament," Farrar said matter-of-factly. "It's going to be an uphill climb. But we have been there three years in a row. They see no reason why it can't be four."
The Lady Tigers are coming off a 18-8 season that ended with a disappointing overtime loss to Greenland in the Class 3A finals in Hot Springs. Farrar said it's still unpleasant to talk about losing a two-point lead with 25 second left in regulation then being handled in the overtime frame.
"It's still not easy," he said. "But that was the fourth time we played them and they won all four. Obviously, they were the better team last year."
Farrar was set to reload this year after losing twins Nikki and Tara Mullen to graduation. Nikki now plays at Arkansas-Monticello after being selected two-time All-Conference and All-State. But Farrar had another set of twins in waiting, Kodee and Kaitlin Powell, along with Lindsey Savage, who averaged 12 points per game last year. But Savage suffered a season-ending injury during the summer, leaving Farrar with only two seniors and three juniors.
"It could have been more this year with her being a senior," Farrar said of Savage. "Plus, that takes six or seven rebounds per game away and a great defender. That was a big loss for us."
Of the three juniors, Anna Blach and Keylen Bell bring the most experience to the table. Farrar said he will rely on their backgrounds to help the Lady Tigers get out of a tough 1-3A Conference that includes Greenland, West Fork, Elkins and Cedarville.
"It is going to be an extreme dogfight every night," Farrar said. "We can't take a night off against anyone. If we do we will get beat.
"I have told them since the state finals that they are on everyone's radar," he added. "Everyone wants to beat you. They don't feel sorry for you because of injuries or whatever. We are going to grow up and maintain what we have built the last five years."
Farrar said Blach, who played the sixth-man role last year, will be on the floor as much as possible. The Lady Tigers will also lean on a couple of sophomores to fill the voids. Payton Watson is expected to see ample playing time as is Kenley Williams.
"Kenley has great ball-handling ability," Farrar said. "She just needs to play at the high school level. Keylen doesn't have a lot of game experience but having to guard Kaitlin and Kodee in practice has helped her immensely."
Farrar also cited junior Zara Leivan and sophomores Olivia Larimer and Madison Owens as underclassmen who were going to have to mature as a faster pace.
"We have several girls that are going to have to grow up faster than they need because of some injuries and numbers," he said. "But they are definitely capable of that. They will be thrown to the wolves a little, getting the pace of high school. But I feel comfortable to have them in there in situations so they can learn."
The Lady Tigers finished third in the conference standings, third in the conference tournament and third in the regional before jumping up one place to second in the state. Farrar said youthfulness is not detracting from what the squad expects.
"They don't want to be the team that ends that," he said. "It's a lot of fun to be with this group. They take a lot of pride in what they do. They just want a ticket to the party. Getting out of our conference is not going to be an easy task. But we have to set our goals high to get good things."
Farrar is 103-49 overall at Green Forest.