When longtime head girls’ basketball coach Scott McKenzie stepped down, administrators at Powell High School didn’t have to look any farther than the end of the bench for a quality …
When longtime head girls’ basketball coach Scott McKenzie stepped down, administrators at Powell High School didn’t have to look any farther than the end of the bench for a quality replacement.
Chelsea Buher, an assistant to McKenzie since 2016 and the freshman coach, has been named the Lady Panthers’ head varsity coach, beginning with the 2019-20 season.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity,” Buher said.
Ranked a Top 100 basketball player nationally out of high school, Buher set school records for career points (2,208), rebounds (951), assists (417) and steals (334) at Lawrenceville High School in Lawrenceville, Illinois. She played collegiately at the University of Illinois and Indiana State University.
Upon graduation in 2012, Buher began her coaching and teaching career in her hometown. She was hired as the head coach of the Lawrenceville girls’ program in 2014, and led the Indians to a regional title in 2016. That same year, she was hired to teach at Powell Middle School and coach the freshman team at PHS. After working as an assistant under McKenzie the past few seasons, Buher said she’s looking forward to continue coaching the girls she’s been working with in the program’s lower levels.
“I have some big shoes to fill; coach Mac has had a lot of success with the program. It was fun to get to coach with him for a couple of years,” she said. “I’m excited for the fact that I’ve had what will be our sophomores and juniors, so those kids have already learned a little bit of my system, which I feel will make for an easier transition.”
Buher called the girls she’ll be coaching next season “a really unique, fun group,” with tremendous upside and a willingness to learn.
“That’s a program that it’s easy to be successful with, because kids coming in and wanting to learn and wanting to work hard for you, that’s fun for everybody,” she said. “That’s how you get a successful program to continue on. Hopefully we can do that. I’m excited, and so are the girls.”
As a teacher and a coach, Buher said the most gratifying aspect of teaching kids the game of basketball is showing them the “why” of what they’re doing on the court.
“Teaching kids the why behind the game of basketball, rather than just having them run a play from A to B to C, I really enjoy,” she said. “They need to understand why — why am I cutting here, why am I setting this screen, why do I have this angle? Just really digging deep to get them to understand that there’s more to the game than just running a play. It’s teaching them how to react to a situation.”
Last year’s Lady Panther squad was made up primarily of seniors; Buher knows one of the challenges next season will be rebuilding a team with little or no varsity experience.
“I think it’s going to have to be a little bit of a rebuild,” she said. “We have a lot of talent, and we can get to where we want to go, but I also think we’re going to take some shots on the chin every now and again, because not a lot of players have any experience at the varsity level. There’s a big difference between sitting on the bench of a varsity game and actually getting out and performing in it. It will be a rebuilding year in that aspect, and that will be new.”
Buher said she’d like her team to be a “rebound and go” team — getting back in transition to make things happen.
“You have to have a deep bench in order to do that, you can’t run and gun with five kids,” she explained. “We have to have a deep bench, and I think we’re going to have that. We won’t have a lot of size, so we’ll have to be good defenders, and we’ll have to be quick.”