The season begins and team overviews give just a glimpse as to what may be in store for some of the local girls basketball teams.
At Mansfield, the Lady Tigers lost a number of seniors from last season but have four returning varsity players.
Three of them, though, were just sophomores last season as they garnered significant minutes. Add to the mix a freshman on this year’s varsity and head coach Kate Goldberg’s team is filled with youth and optimism.
“In high school athletics, you don’t recruit, but we lucked out with quality kids,” Goldberg said. “They look forward to coming in to work every day. They work extremely hard and I’m impressed with their work ethic. They’ve bought in and understand the needs of higher-level basketball.”
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With numbers enough to keep the coaches from being lonely on the bench, Mansfield isn’t concerned about the lack of depth.
“We have all the pieces. If they’ll do the fundamentals,” Goldberg said, “they’ll win games. Teams with the right six or seven – it doesn’t matter,” she explained.
The Lady Tigers will play one tournament Nov. 19-21 and then not another until the Christmas break. The early season will prepare them for the district slate with emphasis on getting physically and mentally ready for the tough district.
“We have to get in shape and be mentally tough so that we can make good decisions when they get winded,” Goldberg said.
Summit tips off the season with North Forney on Wednesday.
The Lady Jaguars finished one spot out of the playoffs last year, but head coach Dawn Mailloux-Smith said this year’s personnel offer a good shot to be one of the four teams that get into the postseason.
“We have experienced juniors and seniors,” Mailloux-Smith said. Only two players on the roster were a part of the varsity squad last year.
“We get our point guard back, Amber Dixon, who is a game-changer,” she said. “She’ll have a positive impact on the team.”
Summit lost some key performers, but along with Dixon, Keonna Watson, Christiana Baker and Celsi Caraway will more than make up the loss in production.
The district will again be tough, with Timberview maybe being the frontrunner, in Mailloux-Smith’s view.
It’s Mailloux-Smith’s first season as head coach, but she has been a Summit assistant and previous head coach at other schools previously.
“I feel like I’m coming home where I should be,” she said.
“I just feel like the kids came in aware that last year’s team was the first to not make the playoffs,” Mailloux-Smith of the group’s mindset. “It’s motivation and they want to get back to the playoffs and back in the top of the district and work hard to accomplish that goal. I’m anxious to see them work hard and accomplish that.”
Lake Ridge is ready to get started, as well.
“We have a lot to work on,” said Lake Ridge head coach Stephanie Gray following scrimmages with Arlington Bowie and Dallas Skyline.
Granted, those two teams are some of the better programs in the area, but Gray wanted her Lady Eagles to have a real barometer at this early stage.
Back for Lake Ridge are Kennedy Burks and Kylie Collins, who have the most varsity playing experience for the Lady Eagles.
“They’ve played in the regional quarterfinals and the semis and understand the intensity and urgency,” Gray said.
Lake Ridge will not be as young as they are inexperienced.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces on varsity,” Gray said, but noted those faces have been with the program for a few years.
“I like where we’re at and we just need to get reps and minutes for confidence,” she said.
There is already good chemistry being built and they’ll look to add the experience by playing in three tournaments in the early part of the season.
“I’m excited to see what we can be,” Gray said.