One of the premier shooters in the area, Keller senior Mallory Lockhart found herself a bit alone following last season’s run to the regional semifinal — the deepest any Lady Indians team ever had gone.
Not alone in the traditional sense, but as the only returning starter, most of her teammates from that squad were moving on.
The locker room suddenly wasn’t so familiar as it had been. And Lockhart was admittedly worried.
“At first I was scared, wondering who would be the new coach,” she said.
Kate Goldberg was hired over the summer, and the transition was underway. And a big transition is was.
“It’s been a lot of change. It’s a totally different style of coaching,” Lockhart said.
Lockhart could have sulked, frustrated by a shift in course. But being the leader of the team, she jumped in with both feet, which made the change easier for everyone.
“She has had to create a brand-new team with a brand-new coach her senior year,” Goldberg said. “She’s been phenomenal. The transition period has been flawless.”
Flawless, perhaps, but that doesn’t necessarily mean painless.
Sporrer ran a much slower-paced offense. One that stresses patience and finding your shot. Goldberg wants to get out and run; the more layups the better.
“At first it was really hard to change to that. Over time, I’ve adapted to it and I like it a lot,” Lockhart said. “Practices are 100 percent different from last year. But I’ve adapted to that also. We run so much this year. But I like the change. I think it was good for our team.”
Keller began the season with victories in seven of its first nine games, and Lockhart’s decision to buy in played no small role in the team’s success.
“I always agreed with Coach Goldberg and what she was doing,” Lockhart said. “I think my positive attitude helped the other players on the team. Her type of coaching really helps with the types of players we have this year.”
“She bought in right away. She’s that kind of kid. She loves basketball and loves the game,” Goldberg said. “She has been invested in every step we’ve taken.”
Lockhart admits the transition isn’t complete, and also points out how much it will help her next year when she leaves the high school game for Oklahoma City University (which has won four NAIA national titles in six years, by the way).
In a twist of coincidence, Goldberg played at OU under current OCU coach Bo Overton. Lockhart hadn’t yet committed to OCU when she got the news of her new high school coach, but once she learned of the relationship, there was no question.
“Right then, I knew I couldn’t go anywhere else,” Lockhart said. “I have to go there. I love the connection.”
Lockhart said Overton and Goldberg have similar coaching styles, and even run many of the same drills in practice, so this season will help her prepare for her next big transition — to the college game.
“She’s a really cool, down-to-earth kid who is really mature for her age and does well with the underclassmen,” Goldberg said. “She’s just one of those kids you wish you had for more than one year, but you’re glad you did get her for at least one.”
The season still could play out any number of ways, but Lockhart already considers it a success.
“I think so far this season has played out so much better than I thought it would,” she said. “I was scared about what this year might be, but now that I’m in it, it’s not as bad as I thought it could be. It’s been much better than I imagined.”