After suffering losses in their first two contests of the 2013-2104 season, the Salado Lady Eagles rattled off four consecutive wins. With her team idle this week, Salado head coach Diane Konarik talked with Herald sports editor Allan Mandell on Wednesday.
Coach, what has been the key to this turnaround for your team?
Defense. We didn’t get rattled when we were 0-and-2. We knew that playing tough defense is the way to turning things around. Ashley Adams is a very good defender for us and so is Sarah Kelarek and Taryn Kornegay. Our two post players—Taylor Atwood and Jaylee Sebek — are very good at reacting to what is going on at any given time.
Overall, I believe I have a very well-rounded team.
Let’s talk about the overall game of your floor leader, Taryn Kornegay. She has terrific poise out there.
Yes, she does. She played point guard last year and I’d like to move her to three because she’s such a great shooter. We’re trying to work Carmella Perez into that point guard role. Once Carmella takes over that role that will allow us to move Taryn, and then she’ll be getting a lot more open shots. It’s hard to be the point guard, bring the ball down and then get an open look.
Taryn sometimes takes these crazy off-balance shots but she told me today that she feels more confident about her shots when she shoots them off-balance. The bottom line is that Taryn has a lot of confidence in herself and I have a lot of confidence in her.
One thing we know about Carmella: she is not afraid to dive on that floor for a loose ball.
Yes, she gives us that hustle all the time. She’ll always give you 100 percent. She’s got a very good shot and she plays very good defense. She’s coming around very well.
Sarah Kelarek is showing quite a bit of poise considering she’s just a freshman.
I saw something very special in Sarah when she was in 8th grade. Then I coached her in frosh volleyball. I asked her point-blank: Will you be able to handle me at the varsity level getting on you? She said, “Yes, Ma’am! I’m ready for it. I’ll do whatever you need.” And she has meant that, too.
And Ashley Adams is a total winner. You can see it by the way she carries herself on the court. She’s out there to win.
True. She plays such great defense. She’s quick and has great hands and great feet. She really wasn’t sure whether she’d play basketball this year because she already has been offered a collegiate scholarship to run. We had a long talk and I just told her, “If you choose to play, play all-out like you usually do so you’d never have any regrets.” Well, she has played so hard for us — she puts a lot of pressure on the ball. A lot of girls can’t handle her pressure.
What are your expectations of Peyton Dreitz, Taylor Atwood and Jaylee Sebek?
Peyton, right now, is our seventh man. Last year, she gave us some nice contributions as a frosh and this year as a sophomore she’s improved a lot with her defense and rebounding.
Jaylee is so feisty defensively. Her and Taylor together are our top two rebounders. Taylor is very aggressive. Both Taylor and Jaylee are very athletic. They run up and down the court well. Their speed is a nice bonus for us.
And Rebecca Carroll came in and gave you some nice minutes in your Friday-night win over Gatesville.
She did. Rebecca is a left-hander that shoots with her right hand and dribbles with her left. She may not be on the floor a lot but she is my glue. She is always there for our team. She brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to our team. She’s always talking to the girls—firing them up.
Are your surprised at all by your four-game winning streak?
Last year, we talked a lot about commitment and dedication. This year, we’re showing that commitment and dedication. Our girls have decided they want to go as far as they possibly can this season.
So, does it surprise me? No. This is what we worked for.