ETV News Stock Photo by Jeff Barrett
A new chapter begins for the Lady Panthers this season along with a different, yet familiar, face at the helm. Former assistant coach Jake Hardy will step into the head coaching role as Mark Stuckenschneider transitions to be an assistant. They will also be joined by Nikki Otton, who will serve as another assistant coach.
Hardy comes in with previous head coaching experience as he manned the middle school boys’ squad for the past two years. “I’m excited about it. It’s fun to try out some of the ideas that I’ve had and be in that role,” began Hardy. “It’s also fun to stay coaching with Mark.”
There are a number of returners from last year, including four seniors, two juniors and a handful of sophomores. The Panthers also have a couple freshman and a senior joining the ranks to help bolster the group. “It’s excellent to have so many returners coming back,” mentioned Hardy.
Pinnacle will have its sights set on improving from last year’s season, which ended with a 4-19 record. “That’s the bare minimum. The high goal is to go at or above .500. It’s going to be difficult to do, but if we get things going, anything can happen.”
Monument Valley and Whitehorse are projected to be the top gunners in the region, but Hardy likes his chances against the likes of the Buckaroos and Pirates. “Monticello and Green River will have their hands full with us,” Hardy said. “I think Monticello and Green River are winnable [games].”
“They are working really hard. There was a bunch of girls that worked throughout the summer, some of them went to basketball camps. They want to turn it around where we’re not having a 4-19 season,” Hardy concluded. “They could shock some people.”