GENTRY(KFSM)--- Gentry girls basketball coach Toby Tevebaugh has a certain presence on the sideline, and he knows it.
"I think everybody who’s ever watched me coach knows I’m pretty animated," says the coach.
Just ask those most intimately familiar with his coaching style: his players.
"He will have his moments, but so will I" says senior Haley Hays. Her fellow senior Kya DeZurik agrees.
"He motivates us more than anyone I’ve ever know. He may make us mad, but it makes us play fun."
The seniors are used to his style, but sometimes they have to act as translators for the underclassmen, says Hannah Boss
"Sometimes you have to tell them 'Hey, he says this, but that's just coach.' You know at the end of the day that he’ll do anything for us."
But at the start of the season, it wasn’t working. The Lady Pioneers dropped their first four games. DeZurik remembers.
"Those first losses were hard, we had to work really hard, come back, early practices, then work our way back to where we were confident again."
Led by four seniors, the first to spend their varsity careers with Coach Tevebaugh, the team turned its season around. Since that opening stretch they are 12-4, including a red-hot 10-2 start to conference play.
The catalyst may have been a defensive switch, one that the team had to convince the coach to make. You see, he can be rather set in his ways.
"He came in, all we were gonna run was a man, that was it," remembers Hays. "He was stuck in his ways, very hard-headed about it."
"He likes his man, but that’s just not what suited our team best," says Boss.
With the team struggling, they were able to convince their coach to give zone defense a try.
"Really, the honest to goodness truth is, I thought the girls believed in the zone more," admits Tevebaugh. "I think that it was something they had more faith in, and I just had to get out of being stubborn."
It seems the players take after their coach in the stubbornness department, and that helped make the switch to zone effective.
"Honestly I think we’re hard-headed enough that we just put the extra effort in to make it work," says DeZurik. "We said hey, we want to try this, and we didn’t want to be wrong."
"We really didn't want to be wrong," emphasizes Boss.
So far, they haven't been. Having the right personnel helps too, as Hays points out.
"Our two big girls on the post really disturb people, and our top girls, they’re quicker than we’ve had in the past. Other teams can;t get comfortable moving the ball."
In the end, as senior Chaz Fuamatu points out, it just felt right.
"When we moved to a zone I think we got more comfortable."
After starting the season 0-4, the Lady Pioneers have already amassed the most conference wins in Coach Tevebaugh's tenure, with plenty of season left.