LONGMONT -- It would have been easy for the Longmont girls basketball team to enter the 2012-13 season with shaken confidence.
Instead, the Trojans have raced out to a 6-1 start and boast Class 4A's leading scorer in Kathryn Schell. The junior shooting guard's offensive explosion, and the Trojans' revival, results from an abundance of confidence, not a lack.
"This season I really wanted to come out and prove myself," said Schell, who tops her classification with a 20.0 points-per-game average. "Last year, I didn't have the best game. This year I know I need to get my job done."
Schell's job is to score. At her current rate of productivity, she could be up for a promotion.
Listed at 5-foot-8, Schell has scored 20 or more points in five games this season, including a career-best 28 against Westminster on Dec. 8. Among the state's best with three 3-pointers a game, she is shooting 46 percent from behind the arc and 63 percent from the field.
During the offseason, Schell moved her shot down closer to her shoulder, which has improved her accuracy. With an effective mix of driving to the basket and shooting from mid to long range, Schell has established herself as the focal point of the Trojans offensive attack.
"I just have a lot more confidence this year and I also worked really hard on my skills this summer," said Schell, who averaged 7.1 points per game as a sophomore. "I have more drive to score and put up my points. When I get on the court, I'm more experienced and I'm not afraid to put up a shot."
Schell's teammates, in particular her twin sister and point guard Anna Schell, who is third in Class 4A with 4.4 assists per game, are looking to get her the ball and play a major role in her production. However, the Trojans lost two starters when sophomores Lyndie and Lacy Haddock, also twins, moved to Utah at the start of the new year.
While Kathryn Schell has been the team's most potent attacker, so far the Trojans have also found balance with five players -- Anna Schell (7.7), Lacy Haddock (9.3), Sydney Wetterstrom (5.5), Gabriella Fallon (6.3) and Megan Tulenko (5.3) -- averaging between five and 10 points per game. Schell and the others must now fill the void left by losing the Haddock twins' athleticism and leadership ability.
"Lyndie and Lacy both helped a ton in the core of leadership," Schell said. "So we all have to step up our roles more. They brought a lot of fire and confidence."
In 2011-12, the Trojans took their lumps throughout a tough 4A and 5A schedule left over from the program's perennial state title appearances. That experience, Schell said, hardened the young team for its less-difficult 2012-13 schedule, during which they have already topped last year's 5-19 mark.
With their only loss coming in overtime against Cheyenne Central High from Wyoming, the Trojans also remain undefeated against Colorado teams. Trojans first-year head coach Mike Knaus said Kathryn Schell's offensive maturation has been a big reason why.
"She could always shoot it," Knaus said. "But she's learning how to let the game come to her a little better. Instead of forcing shots, she's a little more patient. She gets out on the break, she's shooting a high percentage and it's not like she's taking a ton of shots because she's being patient and waiting for her opportunities."
Knaus said teams will be no doubt be watching Schell closely now in her second varsity season and he doesn't want her to think she has to score more as the season progresses. Since the Trojans received six votes in the latest Denver Post media poll, teams will likely be keeping an eye on them.
Maturity and confidence helped Schell work her way into becoming a top-tier scorer. Those same qualities and the belief that they can win have helped the Trojans put last season behind them and show Colorado they can compete. Heading into the difficult Northern Conference schedule, they'll need all those things to keep it going.
"We're confident. The kids are confident," Knaus said. "They believe that if they play well, they can win games. That's where I want them. I feel good about that."
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