KINGSBURG - Heading into her first season as head coach of the Kingsburg girls basketball team, Kristi Wood is no stranger to Vikings athletics.

Wood was part of the program’s first two league championship teams in the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons and for her to lead this year’s team to a Central Sequoia League title, Wood said they’ll need to play with “fast pace” tempo.

“We want to out run everybody and use our height as well” Wood said. “I think a lot of teams don’t have those two combinations, so if they play together, we’ll be ok.”

Wood was part of the program last year, serving as head coach of the junior varsity squad, which was also her first head coaching job. Now stepping into the lead position of the program in her second year, Wood admitted to not having a ton of experience, which is why she brought her former high school coach Nick Harrell to be her assistant coach.

“I don’t have a ton of coaching experience, so I’m trying to surround myself with those that do,” Wood said. “I’m learning a lot as far as a coaching perspective rather than a player’s perspective.”

Wood inherits a team that went 9-16 overall and 4-6 in CSL play last season. All six of Kingsburg’s league losses last year were against the top three teams in the CSL, who were Selma, Immanuel, and Exeter.

Even though she hasn’t coached many of the girls on the roster, Wood said this year’s team features a combination of players that have multiple years of varsity experiences and those that don’t.

The most notable returner for the Vikings is senior forward/center Maddy Reed, who is committed to play at UC Merced next year.

Reed was one of the team’s captains last year and led Kingsburg in points per game (16.7), steals per game (2.7), blocks per game (3.6), and shooting percentage (45 percent).

“She’s definitely our leader,” Wood said about Reed. “She sets a good example on and off the court.”

Entering her senior season, Reed wants to end her prep career with a Central Section Division IV playoff appearance and compete for a Valley championship.

“That’s definitely a goal,” Reed said. “We’re definitely trying to get there and I think we have a chance to if we all just work really hard.”

This season, the CSL will feature four playoff teams from last year, who were Selma, Immanuel, Exeter, and Dinuba. Out of those playoff teams, the Immanuel Eagles were only one to win a Valley championship at Selland Arena last year.

The Eagles will be the first team Kingsburg will play to start CSL play against on Dec. 11. The Vikings will play its other second league game of December against league-newcomer Hanford West on Dec. 17. Both games will be on the road.

Kingsburg started the 2018-19 campaign at home with a 44-42 win over Reedley High on Nov. 20. The Vikings last played at Mt. Whitney on Nov. 26 (after press time), but will be back on the court, hosting the defending Central Section Division IV champion San Joaquin Memorial on Nov. 28. After, Kingsburg will host the Strathmore Spartans on Nov. 30.

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Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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