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Dole, Stevens Putting Pieces in Place

Claremont — As soon as a right-handed girl can make a left-handed layup, Ross Dole will flash a smile.

The second-year Stevens High School girls basketball coach sat on the Cardinals’ bench last winter certainly trying to win games, but all the while he knew that the type of basketball he was witnessing was not what it should be — not even close.

Consequently, when the 4-16 season came to a conclusion last February, out came the drawing board.

“Since the season ended, there has hardly been a day that goes by that I haven’t worked on basketball,” said Dole. “I love it.”

What Dole has done the past few months is, well, a lot.

He instituted a summer AAU basketball program that played games at the city’s new community center. He took part in the selection of the new middle school girls basketball coach, Mike Thompson. Along with his assistant varsity coaches — Ivy Desilets, Steve Condon and Gary McCall — Dole has also evaluated the middle school players and took part in the selection of the girls for the A and B teams.

What has perhaps pleased him the most is that former Stevens girls basketball coach Carl Desilets has been named the director of basketball operations at the Goodwin Community Center.

“He will work with all the coaches and players and will be of tremendous help,” said Dole. “He remains very passionate about girls basketball.”

All these changes are designed so that all aspects of girls basketball in Claremont is taught the same way.

“I feel like I hit a home run with the way things are set up now,” said Dole.

Dole is also not going into this with blinders. He knows that it’s a big mountain to climb and only the first steps have been taken.

“I know this is going to be a long haul, but I have a goal to put multiple state championship banners on the walls of Carr Gym,” he said.

Now that all the pieces of the puzzle have been put together, the hard work begins.

“I think by evaluating the program at the middle school, the problems of playing correct basketball were instituted long before the kids got there. They just have not been taught the fundamentals along the way,” said Dole. “Our players not only don’t know what foot they should be using when taking a layup, they also lack confidence, right up through the high school players.”

With that in mind, Dole knows that before the victories come, the team has to be fundamentally sound.

“We are way behind other communities,” Dole said.

“I think our numbers are there, but we have to find some way to not only play correctly, we have to think correctly. We need to have confidence in what we are doing. For not winning for so many years, the girls don’t think they can win. We have to get them in the right frame of mind.”

The Cardinals began tryouts this week, and this winter’s team has a good core of returning veterans in Alexis Melcher, Natalie Wilson, Cheyenne Kemper, Kirsten Dole and Morgan Busby.

While this varsity season progresses, Dole said he will be having weekly meetings with the middle school coaches and talking regularly with Carl Desilets.

“We’ve made some great strides already with all the coaches working together,” said Dole. “It’s great stuff.”

Now about making that left-handed layup.