Monarch's Emerson Herrmann returns for her senior season after posting the best statistical year of her high school career. The numbers were great. The team's record — well, wasn't.

The Coyotes are looking to rebound from a 4-20 season, and optimism is bouncy with longtime Monarch coach Gail Hook back on the bench. Hook, the program's architect who stepped down following the 2014-15 season, is eager to right the program she crafted into a consistent winner in her 17 previous seasons at Monarch.

She inherits a team that largely struggled in growing pains and was done no favors by a brutal nonconference schedule last season. Outside of Herrmann, production was lacking — the star player scored nearly half of her team's points and owned more than one-third of its boards.

"I know I tried to do a lot of things last year," Herrmann said.

Both Herrmann and Hook know if the Coyotes are to take a step forward this winter, one player can't be the everything ... all the time.

Herrmann, who led the team in nearly every statistical category outside of assists and turnovers last season, is eager to flip the page.

"We've been working hard and everybody is optimistic about this season," Herrmann said. "I can trust my teammates. They can get me the ball and I can get them the ball. My mindset is to be a little bit more open and less hard on myself trying to get the same stats every game. Now I can open up the floor and trust my teammates."


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Time will tell if others can and will step up for the young Coyotes. Herrmann obviously believes so — as does Hook.

During the opening week of winter practice, the coach gushed about the hard work her players were putting in and was eager to see the growth this season.

Hook said she thinks a player of Herrmann's talent and stature can be instrumental in that process.

Monarch’s Nicole Reading returns to the Coyotes as an outside shooting threat.
Monarch's Nicole Reading returns to the Coyotes as an outside shooting threat. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

"I think Emerson is a good enough player that she understands that she has to make the players around her better," Hook said. "Typically, last year, it was focused on her. This year it's going to be a different look. We've got some other kids coming in that are pretty good and talented and we got to get them all on the same page. I think that'll take some pressure off her."

One such player: Hook pointed to the maturation of guard Nicole Reading, who showed at times she could make a huge impact for the Coyotes. The Coyotes' second most productive player in 2017-18 averaged 6.1 points, 1.4 assists and 1.8 rebounds.

"I think she's a threat," Hook said. "She's got great court awareness. She knows the game and is a great leader."

Monarch, which last won a playoff game in the 2015-16 season, began its season Monday night with a competitive overtime road loss at Prairie View.

Brent W. New: bwnew@prairiemountainmedia.com and @brentwnew