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Posted on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

Pioneer girls seeking identity in absence of starting point guard, Emily Turner

By Pete Cunningham

The Pioneer High School girls basketball spent the entire offseason expecting to have Emily Turner as its starting point guard.

The Pioneers (6-3, 2-2 SEC Red) had exactly that to start the season and went 5-0 while averaging 56.6 points per game. But in that fifth game of the year, a 60-59 win over Skyline, Turner went down with an ankle injury.


Pioneer point guard Emily Turner, above, has been out since Dec. 18 and her team is averaging 20 points less per game in her absence.

Courtney Sacco | file photo

The Pioneers are 1-3 in the four games since Turner's injury, averaging 36.5 points per game, more than 20 points less than when she was in the lineup. Turner only scored six points per game, but her ability as a facilitator has been sorely missed over the past month.

Senior Jennifer Fichera came into the season expected to provide scoring, defense and rebounding. While she's still doing all of that, the added responsibility of being the team's primary ball handler is one that is taking some getting used to.

“Without Emily, we’re still hurting, and for Jenny it’s been an adjustment,” Pioneer coach Crystal Westfield said after Pioneer lost to Saline on Tuesday. “We’re still trying to figure it out.”

Fichera and the Pioneer will have at least another four weeks to figure out what to do without Turner in the lineup, which is how long Westfeild said she's been told Turner will be out. Pioneer will try to figure that out against Huron on Thursday at Pioneer High School (7 p.m.) as the cross-town rivals face each other for the first time this season.

Pioneer has more to worry about than Turner being out of the lineup. Westfield also said several girls still look rusty after some missed practice due to family vacations and illness during the holiday break.

"We couldn’t even scrimmage over break because of vacations and flu," Westfield said. "I really don’t think that they’re back to where they were at the beginning of the season."

On the other side of the court, Huron is playing better basketball than it was to begin the year, thanks in part to coach Steve Vinson getting the girls he wants in the lineup on a more consistent basis. That's not to say the River Rats are playing as well as Vinson expects them to, but it appears they're at least trending in the right direction, which wasn't the case early on.

Pioneer struggled to handle Saline's press on Tuesday, which is exactly what Huron has been known to do for years and will do on Thursday. Unfortunately for Pioneer, Huron's version of the press is faster and the River Rats (5-4, 3-1 SEC Red) have more players who score off the turnovers that press creates.

"I don’t know if we forgot about Saline because we were concentrating on Huron, but we know that (Huron) gets a lot points off steals and breaks and we're going to have to be ready for that because we know they transition," Westfield said. "If we have to throw the ball out of bounds to get set up, we’re going to do that."

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

Again, this game is at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Pioneer High School. We have said otherwise previously and apologize for any confusion.