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Forest Park girls basketball looking for team effort

Forest Park coach Steven Cole said he is looking for “everyone to step up” as the team will play the first part of the season without returning leading scorer Kayla Potts. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Forest Park coach Steven Cole said he is looking for “everyone to step up” as the team will play the first part of the season without returning leading scorer Kayla Potts. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Senior point guard Kayla Potts is not expected to join the Forest Park team until January while she rehabs an offseason knee injury. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

FOREST PARK — Forest Park will be asking Tameka Blue to fill some big shoes during the first part of the basketball season.

The sophomore will be asked to play the point guard position while senior Kayla Potts tries to recover from a second knee injury.

Potts, a senior all-state player, sustained a knee injury over the summer, and is expected to miss the first part of the season. Luckily for the Panthers, who reached the Class AAAAA semifinals last season, the majority of their region games will be after January, when the senior is expected to return.

“We all have to step up, and be ready to provide some leadership,” Forest Park junior Breasia McElrath said. “We are going to definitely miss Kayla, but we all have to do a little more.”

It will be the second straight season that the Panthers will start the season without Potts. Last season, she didn’t join the team until Jan. 8 after missing her entire sophomore campaign with a knee injury. On that day, Potts helped lead the Panthers to a 57-9 win over Ola with nine points, five assists and two rebounds.

She would go on to average a team-leading 12.4 points and 2.9 assists to make the Class AAAAA all-state team.

Potts, a 5-foot-9 guard, is hopeful she will be back for the second part of the season. She is currently working with a personal trainer to build up the strength in her leg.

“Everything is going very well,” Potts said. “I’m working a lot on my strength and conditioning. The plan is to come back in January, and I’m working hard towards that goal. I have a lot of faith and believe that the team can hold it down while I’m gone.”

The Panthers will be counting on senior Tiffany Wilson to continue to play a big role this season. She will sign with UNC-Ashville today. In 33 games last season, the 6-foot-1 forward averaged 8.6 points and 8.8 rebounds as one of three returning starters minus Potts.

“I think we can surprise a lot of people,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of confidence in each other. Everybody is learning their roles, and playing very hard. Everybody on the team will have to step up and play a big role. I don’t think I will have to carry the load all by myself this season.”

Forest Park coach Steven Cole said the team’s experience in making deep runs in the playoffs will help carry them while they wait on a possible return of Potts.

“We have some good leadership, and they should guide us this season,” Cole said. “Losing Kayla will hurt, but the good thing is we play most of our region games after January. If she returns then, we should be in good shape. Everybody on the team will have to play a bigger load.”