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The players on the court Monday were not new to first-year Cary High girls’ basketball coach Patrick Daly.
Previously a coach at fellow Tri-Nine school Athens Drive, Daly was familiar with several of the Imps players who faced Athens in recent years.
He was also no stranger to the Sanderson team that topped the visiting Imps 45-24 in his first game leading Cary.
Still, Daly knows that putting together a new system is a process, even without the added setback the Imps have already encountered.
“We lost Azura Stevens to an injury in our first jamboree,” he said.
Stevens, a 6-foot-4 junior, averaged 16 points per game for the Imps last season. She is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken fibula.
Stevens stood on the sideline, braced by crutches, cheering on her team on Cary fell behind 16-6 by halftime.
“It could be a blessing in disguise, because it’s going to force and allow other girls to step up,” Daly said.
The Imps were overpowered in the third quarter as Sanderson outscored the visitors 20-2, but Cary put forth a solid fourth-quarter effort once things started to come together and the team found its rhythm. The Imps scored 16 of their total 25 points in the final period.
“They’re a scrappy team,” said Sanderson coach Glenn Frazier. “They don’t lay down for anybody, and they’re going to be tough. We had to play. I couldn’t take a break out there, and I respect them.”
Senior Whitney Coleman led the Imps with 10 points, including six in the second half.
Daly was pleased with the team’s defensive intensity throughout the game against a larger Sanderson team. It will take some time for the team to find its chemistry, he said.
The plan is to improve with each day and take it one quarter or one game at a time.
“We need to play for eight minutes at a time,” Daly said. “It’s a long game. It’s a long season.”