Kayla Cooper

Sophomore Kayla Cooper and the Plano East girls basketball team will have a new head coach this season in former Lancaster coach Jessica Linson.

In addition to Plano ISD’s largest hire, which came in February in the form of Hebron offensive coordinator Tyler Soukup being brought on to helm the floundering Plano West football program, and the hiring of local club coach Cathy Manderson to take over the Plano East volleyball team, the district has handed the keys to several other programs to new faces heading into the 2019-20 athletics year.

The most notable remaining change is also among the Lady Panthers’ ranks, where former Lancaster bench boss Jessica Linson will take over the East girls basketball program in place of the departing Cherilyn Morris.

A former assistant, Morris took over the East program prior to the 2014-15 school year. In her five seasons, the Lady Panthers made the postseason four times, only missing out in the former coach’s second year at the forefront of the program.

Still, the Lady Panthers made the second round only once in the tenure of star and TCU signee Tavy Diggs, who graduated following last season, defeating Euless Trinity in the bi-district round in 2016-17, 41-39, before falling to Cedar Hill by a final count of 64-56 to bow out of the tournament.

Linson, who spent time at South Oak Cliff prior to taking over at Lancaster before the 2016-17 season, led the Lady Tigers to their first postseason appearance since 2011-12 last season, where they were eliminated by Cleburne in the bi-district round, 51-46.

East was also bounced in the opening round of last season’s 6A tournament, getting paired up with Sachse and falling to the Lady Mustangs in a lopsided setback, 68-42.

Linson will have her work cut out for her in a stout District 9-6A, though increased parity following the departure of a trio of McDonald’s All-Americans and experience coming back in the form of a large group of underclassmen from a season ago could lift the Lady Panthers to another solid campaign. Headlining that experienced group are senior Alexis Bradstreet, juniors Kendall Parker and Thalia Merritt, and sophomores Tiana Amos, Kayla Cooper and Ada Anamekwe, among others.

Elsewhere, Plano Senior will have a new head coach on the mat in Andy Rettke, whose resume includes a prolific high school career in Illinois, a collegiate stop at McKendree University and coaching experience at Mattoon High School, also in Illinois.

Rettke will inherit a program in flux from the departing Ray Bedford, who accepted a job with Texas Wesleyan earlier this year, as the Wildcats’ rivals on the West side have dominated the PISD wrestling scene as of late (including posting a pair of state champions last season in returner Tagen Jamison and alum Ashley Lekas). Plano also graduated seven seniors, including four-time state qualifier Sam McCoy.

Finally, PISD will have a new head diving coach in Dan Hafner. Hafner has spent time leading both Richardson J.J. Pearce and teams for the city of Richardson, as well as at the helm of the girls swimming and diving team at Grosse Pointe North High School in Michigan.

For continued coverage of the local sports scene, follow @TaylorRaglin on Twitter.

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