The Grapevine Faith girls basketball team went 7-5 through its first 12 games this season, and coach Brandon Smith said he has been pleased with the chemistry his team seems to possess early on.
Faith advanced to the area round of the playoffs last year after winning its bi-district game, and part of the reason the team has enjoyed the success the Lady Lions have since last year is the play of forward Madelyn Cole.
“She brings a lot of confidence,” Smith said. “When she's on the floor, the kids just feel a whole lot more confident. Any time you have a player like that, it kind of gives you a bit of a swagger. She brings a toughness and a competitiveness that has been lacking here for some time. We've been trying to turn a big ship here for some time, and her and Summer [Bennison] have both been key in turning that ship.”
Cole said she sees her role on the Faith girls basketball team as being more than just a leader.
“I try to make it fun,” Cole said. “I like to lighten all the moods and have a good time. I really had to step up this year with leadership, because last season I was new and did not know my place. This year, I really want to set a good example and make a big impact.”
Cole said she does not plan to play basketball her junior or senior year, as she plans to focus on volleyball, and said she wants to make the most of this season, which she said is going very well so far.
“We've done well,” Cole said. “We've got a lot of shooters this year. Coach Smith gets everyone involved, and we are playing well.”
Cole said her goals this season are to finish strong and make it as far as possible in the postseason, and said that to repeat on the type of success the team enjoyed last year, it will take a couple of things.
“We're just going to have to win the turnover battles and take control of the tempo of games,” Cole said. “We are also going to have to have mental toughness, because we are not really a big team.”
Smith said that Cole has been a big part of the success the team has enjoyed over the last two seasons, and said he will rely on her heavily throughout the rest of the season to provide leadership.
“Nearly every game, she is a double-double player,” Smith said. “She is going to be crucial to our success. She is kind of our go-to girl down the stretch, and she is the type of player that can deliver, night in and night out.”
Smith said that his team still has some work to do, but added that the Lady Lions are definitely looking to improve upon their 18-16 mark from last season.
“We've got a lot of new pieces, and it has been kind of a learning curve to figure out,” Smith said. “We've lost to good teams, and we are further ahead than where we were last year. We've got a lot of pieces of the puzzle in that we've got shooters and ball handlers and kids that can score on the inside. We're just working on the process of putting it all together right now.”