Elida Lady Tigers Basketball

Elida Lady Tigers Basketball
Posted on 09/09/2018
Elida Lady Tigers Basketball

Elida girls aim to remain on top

December 5, 2018

Elida has a new girls basketball coach, but nothing has really changed for the program.

Keith Durham is not Jaden Isler and vice versa. Isler has his own style of coaching and Durham his, so there will be a difference there.

The program, though, remains one that strives for excellence. The Lady Tigers have won eight consecutive Class A state titles, the last four under Isler after succeeding his father, the late J.D. Isler, who died in a 2015 car accident only months after taking over for Dan Howard.

From coach to coach to coach, the winning has continued. And no dropoff is expected, certainly not under Durham, who’s been an assistant women’s coach at Boise State and a head college coach elsewhere.

“There are certain places that people are comfortable,” Durham said. “Even my superintendent, when she was visiting with me, said, ‘You need to be in the gym.’ I’ve been blessed and given the gifts to be in that gym.”

The coach and the program seem a perfect match, lucky to have each other.

“It’s exciting to join a program that’s had so much success as Elida’s had,” Durham said. “I definitely give my props to Jaden, and his father and Coach Howard before him. They’ve all done an awesome job as far as basketball at Elida.”

Durham has walked into a good spot. Aside from the eight straight titles, Elida returns much of last year’s championship team. The Lady Tigers did lose two starters — Kasyn Creighton and Lacy Ferguson — plus two other departing seniors, Thanya Banda and Megan Falcon. They return everyone else, though, which seems to indicate that nine in a row is well within reach.

But hold on. Offseason realignment will have Elida playing some different, perhaps more challenging small schools in District 4-1A.

“All the 1As are together, so that’s a little bit bigger hill to climb,” Durham said. “But we’ll see what kind of progression we make, see how we’re playing in February, March. My thing is, we’ll just be the best we can be and however it falls, it falls.”

Durham has been seeing that happen slowly. The team had Thanksgiving weekend off and didn’t start practicing until Monday of last week.

“They’re having to learn a new system, which is difficult,” Durham said. “But I really think the transition’s going to be smooth and going to come quickly because of their work ethic and their knowledge of what it takes to be successful.”

The team is experienced and young at the same time. Though most of this season’s players were part of last year’s championship team, there are just two seniors on the roster — guards Madison Ferguson (5-foot-2) and Sadei Chenault (5-5).

Cambree Bargas (5-3) is the roster’s lone junior. There are three sophomores — guards Alyssa Bargas (5-1) and Maislyn Ferguson (5-2), and forward Desirae Martinez (5-4). There’s even a freshman — guard Lilly Anthony (5-5).

“Because of the low numbers,” Durham said, “all of them are important.”

So far it’s been going well for the Lady Tigers, who won Saturday’s season opener 40-22 over Grady/San Jon/House. Elida had stormed to a 17-6 lead by the first quarter’s end and kept on storming, leading 27-11 by halftime.

It’s a team with the swagger of a championship basketball tradition, with many players who’ve also experienced volleyball success.

“Because they’re so used to being successful, they understand how important details are, how to work hard every day to be the best,” Durham said. “To be successful is never, ever handed to you. You’ve got to do things each and every day to get to that point, and these girls are used to it, be it basketball or volleyball. ... Sometimes that’s half the battle.”