Senior captains leading the way for Lady Panthers basketball
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 15, 2005 - BIRTHRIGHT - As multi-sport seniors at North Hopkins, Sara Weir and Kate Hollenshead know what the expectations are from the community. They've lived up to those expectations so far.

Both girls, who are captains of the Lady Panthers' basketball team along with junior Katy Williams, have had their share of personal and team success.

They will be going for more tonight when North Hopkins takes on Maud in the bi-district round of the Class A, Div. I playoffs. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. as part a doubleheader that includes Rivercrest-Campbell at 8 p.m.

The Lady Panthers (21-8) have been ranked in the top five in state all season, and are riding a 10-game winning streak. But, Tim Menke, who coaches cross country and track as well as basketball, said it's all part of building a program.

"Rankings, a few years ago, that would have been a big deal for us. But right now it's not because we've been ranked up there in cross country," he said. "To be honest, it's nice, but not too many of us or the kids think too much about it."

Weir is All-State in basketball and recently became the school career scoring leader (since five-man started in 1978-79) with 2,205 points. She has scored in double figures in all 29 games this season and 45 consecutive games dating back to her junior season.

Hollenshead won the state cross country gold medal in October and was a state qualifier in track. Both girls have been members of the two-time state championship cross country team at NH, the volleyball team that went two rounds deep in the playoffs, and the regional championship track team.

Expectations, they say, go along with success.

"Coach Menke always talks about how people come to our games to see defense and to see this and that," said Weir. "They expect certain things from us, and that makes us play harder."

Hollenshead added that success in one sport breeds success in others since many of the girls play multiple sports.

"We have to go as far as we can in each sport. Since we went to state in cross country, that set the standard for basketball," she explained. "We need to try to make it to state."

Weir can draw on family advice in that regard. Her grandmother, Lou Jane Drummond, was an All-State player for two of the North Hopkins teams that went to state four years in the late '50s and 1960, winning three titles ('58, '59, '60). Her mother, Julie Weir, earned a college scholarship playing for the Lady Panthers in the early '80s.

Sara said it was her mother and grandmother who taught her to play defense, and her grandfather, Max Drummond, who taught her to shoot.

"I just grew up playing," she said. "My grandmother played in the state tournament and won and was All-State, and my mom played in college. I just grew up being around it all the time.

"I like the whole game. I'm not much on pressing, but other than that, I just like it."

Menke said the team depends on Weir for scoring, but that she is also a very good on-the-ball defender.

"She's a very good offensive player, but, her games has evolved also," he said. "She used to be strictly a stand-still jump shooter, and now she's developed to where she can drive in, pull up and hit the shot. She's gotten better, and she works to get even better."

While Weir favors basketball above the other sports, Hollenshead is partial to cross country and track, where the Lady Panthers have a strong, recent tradition of excellence.

Menke said Hollenshead is "very unselfish." On the basketball court, she excels in playing defense and setting picks. She can also go non-stop, due to her track background.

"I guess Coach Menke steered me toward track and cross country," said Hollenshead. "I guess I just have that natural ability and Coach Menke spent his time with me to develop it."

He has also talked to the seniors about their leadership responsibilities.

"We're always supposed to show leadership in practice," Hollenshead said. "If we don't say anything and encourage the girls in practice, Coach Menke is on us pretty hard."

"We don't get onto people, we try to encourage them," Weir added. "If we have a bad practice, we try to find something encouraging to say."

Menke hopes they encourage their teammates to a bi-district win tonight. The last time North Hopkins played Maud, the Lady Cardinals pulled out a 66-64 last-second victory in the 2003 playoffs.

"We've had some trouble the last few years getting past the second round," Menke said. "Hopefully, we'll get that turned around this year."

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