The early girls basketball season has been full of lopsided outcomes. It’s seems like it’s always either a 30-point trouncing or a one-point squeaker.
This is especially true at Mansfield, where the first-year head coach is a familiar face who has new strategies to install.
Kenni Patton has been at Mansfield for 12 years now, but it’s her first time to hold the golden clipboard.
So far in the Lady Tigers’ basketball season, they’ve shown the capacity to pull out wins in tight games. They’ve also shown the youthful mistakes, which shows why there’s a lot of games and tournaments prior to the start of the district schedule.
Never miss a local story.
The interesting trend is the point differential.
After a six-point win over Keller Fossil Ridge on Nov. 14, 59-53, the Lady Tigers were edged by a single point by Justin Northwest, 54-53.
The initial game spreads prior, however, have been losses by 30, 29 and 22, and then a one-point loss and one-point win.
What that means, the Lady Tigers hope, is improvement as the season progresses — or it may just be happenstance. But it seems intriguing.
“It’s a new group of girls and the first games we’ve tried to put things together, and it was a little sloppy,” said Patton.
If teams look for continual improvement, the early differentials are proof positive of the work in the practice gym.
“We’ve had some blowouts early, but what I’ve seen is continual improvement,” Patton added.
The Lady Tigers are still coming away with something positive from the early lessons learned.
“They’ve gotten positive feedback and they’ve corrected their mistakes. We can build off what they’re doing well,” Patton said.
Although the coach has been there for over a decade, Patton said this is still the first time to work directly with many of the players who were talented enough to go straight to the varsity level.
It also is the first opportunity for the new coach to implement her own framework and structure to the team. It’s all still a new learning process.
Players such as Bailey Downing and A’lexus Smith are joined by Adyson Bustillos.
Downing is a hard-nosed player, Smith can be a pivotal scorer and Bustillos, who Patton referred to as a “quiet returner” to the lineup, will help try to turn the tide on the 30-point game differentials.
Bustillos will be the player Mansfield will look to get the ball in her hands for good looks at the basket. She will be a double-digit threat. “She’s got a full green light,” Patton said of Bustillos.
Closing the gap on point differentials — and helping to add more cushion to their wins — will be put on a couple of Wurms.
Junior Kara and freshman Mackenzie Wurms, that is. Older sister, Lindsay has recently graduated from Mansfield’s basketball program.
Mackenzie is a 6-2 post who’s getting her bearings on the floor in the early going but has a great touch and should be “fun to watch,” Patton said.
While it’s the coach’s first year at the helm, the prior 11 years help provide consistency to the program although there’s still some transition to be made.
“They know my personality and coaching style and know how intense I can get,” Patton said. “But since some have never played at the sub-varsity level, it’s my first time to get my hands on them. But because they know me, the buy-in is even greater.”
Mansfield will be on the court at the Cowtown Classic after a game with Mansfield Timberview.