Johnson’s arrival infuses new spirit into Lady Texans

Posted Monday, Jul. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Bailey Porter questioned if the ends justified the means. A two-year letter winner for the Northwest girls basketball program, the previous two seasons were beyond a nightmare.

This program suffered as it won a total of less than 10 games. As 2012-2013 drew to close, the post thought about not coming back for her senior year, 2013-2014.

“With it being my last year coming up, I just kind of thought that I could be doing something different,” Porter said. “I really thought it was going to be the same old, same old, and coming back would not be worth it. You could tell after a game, nobody would talk. It was just a weight on your chest. It was just awful.”

But following the final game in mid-February, then-coach Wayne Parker told his team he was retiring. A new voice was coming. Porter (5-10) didn’t blame Parker for what transpired for what happened. But she also said everything just didn’t feel like “it was 100 percent.”

Weeks later in early April, the stunning announcement that Aledo coach Rusty Johnson was coming left jaws dropping. Johnson had just directed the Lady Kats to the Class 4A state tournament and had an impeccable record.

A new voice and a new way of doing business were coming. With that came new possibilities for the girls basketball program.

“I didn’t know anything about [Johnson],” Porter said. “I knew that it was a guy from Aledo. But when some friends told me he took Aledo to state, I was shocked. I thought, ‘This is going to be awesome. If he’s willing to coach us and do what he can, to help, that’s great.’ I’m so excited.”

As Johnson starting working with his team in the offseason, new drills were introduced. When Johnson couldn’t be there because of outgoing responsibilities at Aledo, the assistants pushed the team even harder. What helped is that each player welcomed the changes and worked to reach a performance level they had not seen.

It continued this summer as players competed in a four-week league. Plus, participation in open gym has been noteworthy. While it’s been optional, Porter estimates that between 9-15 girls have been showing up consistently. In the past, maybe it was a handful.

The work has been more organized. There are scrimmages mixed in with one-on-one drills. Players are taking ownership. Porter hasn’t talked to Johnson one on one but she knows he’s watching everything.

“I’ve been really impressed with the number of girls in the gym this summer working out and showing the commitment it takes to be a winner,” Johnson said. “There are no shortcuts … I truly believe this is a group of young ladies hungry to turn this around.”

Porter is going to be instrumental in this transition season via leadership and skill. It’s hard to know what kind of season the Lady Texans will have. There will be an infusion of younger talent. However, there are expectations for that group. Regardless, these Lady Texans no longer have to look back.

“I know I’ve improve immensely just in these months and have more energy,” she said. “When it’s said and done, [the seniors] want to look back and say, ‘Look what happened to us.’ We’ve already come so far with a new coach. I think we’ll feel that we’ve accomplished a lot.”

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