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T.J. Foltz taking over the Culver High School Lady Dawgs basketball program; bringing uptempo system.

STEELE HAUGEN - Emma Hayes, center, leads the Lady Dawg's basketball team in sprints during the first week of practice. Culver has a home game against the La Pine Hawks at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.
The Culver Lady Dawgs basketball program has found its new head coach, T.J. Foltz.

Foltz, who has been a coach around Jefferson County for quite some time, now will be wearing black and orange and coaching the Culver girls basketball team.

"So far for us, we don't have a lot of people, from what I understand, that have actually played varsity basketball from this area," Foltz said. "I know one, maybe two, that were able to get some playing time, but not very much. I think it is going to be an experience for them as well as me, because as a first-time head coach. I have always been an assistant - so it is a little bit more on my shoulders than before."

Foltz started out coaching at Jefferson County Middle School for two years, starting in 2005, before moving to Madras High School, where he coached seven years of junior varsity basketball and then coached boys at the Warm Springs K-8 Academy. He returned to Madras High to be a varsity assistant and moved around to coach the Madras freshmen girls before coaching the Culver Lady Dawgs.

Last season, the Culver Lady Dawgs had an incredible 10-1 start, but a mix of injuries and a tough league saw Culver just miss the postseason with a 14-9 overall record, 6-8 league record.

"I think for us, my goal is to win basketball games," Foltz said. "We are going to play that kind of style where we get up and down the floor, trapping and pressing. Nothing changes for me with my philosophy and my style of basketball, even when I was coaching boys. We love that up-and-down game, and that is something they (Culver girls) are trying to get accustomed to. For them, just learning stuff, learning the mentality I have (is important); they know I eat, breathe and sleep basketball."

"They see me here early all the time, and I tell them if you are 15 minutes early, you are already late." he said. "That is why you see the girls here shooting around and we don't start practicing for another nine minutes. That is the kind of mentality I want them to have. I want them eager to get in the gym, get going and play some basketball."

The team was coached by Scott Fritz last year, and the team was led by Irma Retano and Mia Gamboa. Fritz was the Culver girls coach for a decade, and now Foltz will be at the helm.

Last year's team ran a full-court trap, high-paced style of play, using the strengths of the team's athleticism. Foltz has a very similar up-and-down, fast-paced coaching style himself.

STEELE HAUGEN - Kiana Webb makes a pass during practice."I like to have an uptempo style, aggressive, getting in people's faces," Foltz said. "If people don't know me, by the middle of the season, they will for sure. I have heard from a few parents that the kids are amped to be here, to learn, and to win. That is what I hope to do, and I hope to make Culver girls basketball something big for the future. I have seen (successful) things done in the past and I think we can establish it out here and get some excitement around Culver girls basketball."

With the loss of a talented senior class in the previous season, the Lady Dawgs will look toward the players who were able to get some minutes on the court, such as Kiana Webb, Sierra Bautista, and Emma Hayes.

"Kiana Webb is one I am going to look for because she has been around," Foltz said. "There are a few other girls like Emma Hayes; I will lean on her heavily. Whether she is ready for that or not is still to be seen. I have a few seniors like Karma Horat; she seems like someone I can lean on down the line. There are a few sophomores that are going to be really tough as well. I like 12 leaders; I don't like just one leader."

Webb will look to step into a big role as the main point guard for this year's team.

"The girls this year are coming out fighting," Webb said. "They want to win, play hard, and coach wants us to play fast, which is good. I think it will be hard because a lot of the team hasn't had a lot of varsity time. The speed difference from JV to varsity is going to take some practice, but I think we will do pretty good."

"Upperclassmen leadership is super important because you can really help out the younger girls," she said. "It is a faster game, so you need them to react faster. Upperclassmen helped me when I was younger. They really taught me what to look for, especially during different plays."

"There are a lot of different things you need to look for," she continued. "I expect us to work really hard this year and go out fighting. Success will be based on our attitudes that year, how we come on the court. Our energy level will be big this year."

Foltz understands that even though the preseason isn't as important as league play, there are benefits of the preseason for a new team with a new coach.

"For these road trips in the beginning, we need to make sure we have that defensive mentality and that grit," Foltz said. "To continue fighting, whether we are winning or losing is going to be big for us early on. We are on the road a lot, on a bus a lot. That is a lot of hours of just sitting, so hopefully, we can stay mentally focused, as well as physically ready to play."

The Lady Dawgs open the season at home against La Pine. Culver and the Hawks play a 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.

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