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story.lead_photo.caption Westside Eagle Observer/MIKE ECKELS Ashley Riggles (center, left) talks to her senior girls' basketball team during a 30-second timeout during the Lady Hornets-Lady Bulldogs basketball contest at Hornet Arena in Colcord, Okla. Dec. 7, 2017.

DECATUR -- Few high school coaches in Northwest Arkansas can match Ashley Riggles when it comes to their own prep basketball days. Riggles was part of a championship dynasty at Greenland under coach Alan Barton, and the trophy cases are filled with hardware toward which Riggles contributed significantly.

In her first year leading the Decatur girls' basketball team, Riggles is learning how the other half lives. Decatur is 6-17 on the year heading into Friday's contest at home.

"I wish things were better, but we're improving and getting better every day for the most part, so that's a positive," Riggles said.

Riggles was an assistant coach for the Lady Bulldogs last season and took over the program this season with just eight players. One of those is a foreign exchange student from Thailand who has never played basketball.

She admits that the culture at Decatur is different than what she grew up in at Greenland, but the players are giving it everything they have, she said.

"It's hard coming from a place where girls' basketball is everything," Riggles said. "But our work ethic has been good and they are trying to do everything I have asked them to do."

Riggles is also a middle school teacher and she's trying to use that as a way to get to know the younger Decatur students to encourage them to join the program.

She has also helped start a pee-wee program through the Boys and Girls Club, a staple in the Greenland community.

"That has helped," she said. "Our younger teams, because of that, are seeing better numbers."

Riggles said she is trying to get her players to focus on singular goals, like the better shooters putting up more shots, or players drawing a certain number of charging calls.

"I try to emphasize for us to control what we can control," she said. "You can control how you rebound, and you can control how you guard, so let's focus on that and try to improve in those areas.

"Our defense has improved a lot since last year and that is also something that you can control."

Riggles said she talks to Barton at least once a week for advice.

"He gives me a lot of insight and just encourages me to trust the process," she said. "He tells me just to stick with it and keep doing what I'm doing."

Riggles said junior Samantha Skaggs and sophomore Destiny Meija have been bright spots this season.

"Samantha has all the ability in the world," Riggles said. "And Destiny just does everything I ask her to do. She's a little bulldog and she plays extremely hard all the time."

Sports on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Riggles sees positives in Lady Bulldogs

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