With Central girls basketball having started off on a 1-9 pace, there are still positives before the Lady Chargers head into district play this week.
Central head coach Michael Sissney was quick to point out the play of junior point guard Ashley Yarbrough.
Yarbrough, the 5-3 playmaker, is in her second year as a starter. And, even though the team hasn’t racked up the wins thus far, Yarbrough said this year’s team is faster and a more energetic team that last year’s group.
“We’re more excited to play this year,” Yarbrough said. “We have a different chemistry and we’re all really close and we’re most all best friends. It’s fun to play with people you like.”
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Frustration hasn’t set in at Central even though there’s been but one win thus far.
“Even though we haven’t won many we’ve been making steps forward,” Yarbrough said. “We know we’re a better team than that. We hope to get more wins in district.”
That attitude permeates the person Yarbrough is, Sissney said.
“Because we aren't winning very many games, she won't get the recognition that she deserves, but she is one of the most special people I have ever had the privilege of knowing,” Sissney said.
That type of praise comes deservedly, but Yarbrough seems to take it all in stride.
“I do assume a leadership role this year as a point guard,” Yarbrough said. “Last year I was the only point guard on a team full of seniors. I don’t want to try and lead where others think I shouldn’t be, but this year because of my position I think I’m leading where I’m supposed to,” she said.
Where the undersized guard said she feels more in control is in the area of effort.
“My style is that I’m aggressive and work hard,” she said. “I can control my effort. I’m trying to play as hard as I can even if my shots are off. I can always control that,” Yarbrough said of her effort.
Yarbrough said that playing defense is all about effort and because of being in control of her own effort, defense is where she derives her most enjoyment. She enjoys being able to play offense and increasing her scoring this year, but defense is where “I can put in maximum effort. We can have a good defensive game if I put in the effort.”
Yarbrough said she hasn’t seen herself as a scorer, but Sissney has asked her to step up into that role.
“When I feel it’s appropriate, I step up,” she said about being the go-to scorer for Central. “In my first year, I would’ve never told you I was a scorer.”
The chemistry between Yarbrough and Sissney has improved, as well, helping Yarbrough better understand what the coach is seeking from the team on the floor.
“I can definitely see it meshing this year,” Yarbrough said of the additional year of working with her coach. “I understand him more now and (understand) the game better and how he sees the game,” she said.
With both seniors on the squad injured, the junior is stepping up where Sissney needs her. “He’s been my coach since my freshman year. I expect we’re on the same page and I’m trying to be the leader the team needs right now,” she said.
The trying season hasn’t been lost on the team, either.
“When you lose, there are times when you did things well and there are times when you lose and you regret how you played,” Yarbrough said. “Especially when you have to wait a few days before you can play again, you just want to get past the regret.”
Yarbrough and her Central teammates are ready to get past any regret and they feel the loss to Argyle was a stepping stone.
“We know we need to step it up a notch,” Yarbrough said. “And although we didn’t win (at Argyle), but that’s when we thought we were moving forward. Ever since then, we feel we started moving forward.”