After losing 12 seniors over the last two seasons, relying on a lot of them heavily, the Mason County girls’ basketball team hopes to bring more stability throughout their classes moving forward over the next few years.
There’s no better time to start seeing where the talent will come from with both upper and underclassmen than in the summer.
“I think we’re a work in progress but think we’re getting better. We’re just getting people more reps playing with one another. That’s why I like to get the summer schedule out in April as soon as I can so we can get as many people together,” Lady Royals coach Brad Cox said.
Wednesday started a two-day team camp for the Lady Royals at The Fieldhouse as they prepare to wrap up summer play.
They’ve already hosted a one-day shootout in late May, been to Campbell County, Montgomery County and Shawnee State in June. The primary objective in the summer months?
“This year is developing, working many different combinations, working as many different girls in-and-out as possible between JV and varsity levels,” Cox said. “Losing eight seniors two years ago and four seniors last year, we do have some experience coming back, but there’s a majority of our kids that don’t have much varsity experience. That’s why summer is good, playing freshman, middle schoolers, some inexperienced high schoolers at the varsity level, hopefully that will help when we look to October.”
Cox could already see the growth among the young and inexperienced just over a few weeks time. They went 3-1 at Shawnee State on Monday and turned around and beat a top-tier 10th Region team in Scott on Wednesday.
“Each level you go up, from freshman to JV, JV to varsity, the speed of the game, physicality of the game, it takes some time to get used to that. The more we played, the better we got,” Cox said. “It’s not necesarrily about wins and losses, but we’re playing better and we’re doing the little things better.”
Victoria Brooks is coming off a breakout junior year along with Sam Schumacher who will still be able to provide that senior leadership like they’ve had over the past couple years, but with the loss of rising sophomore Emma Taylor transferring to Campbell County, the burden for more of the youth to step up and contribute carries more of a premium.
A talented group of freshman and sophomores that includes often time starter Rachel Payne last season, along with juniors Haley White and Lexie Thompson will be relied on even more now this year, helping not only set the foundation for the 2018-19 season, but years to come.
“The first thing we talked about in our first practice and working out in the spring is the opportunities are going to be there. You’ve got to be ready for the opportunity and take advantage of it and I’m glad to see some of these younger girls doing it,” Cox said. “Our program is not built around one player or one class, we’ve got players in all of our grades and all of our levels and we have a great feeder system, so next person up.”
Cox enters his fourth season with the team, the prior three ending in heartbreak in the regional tournament, losing three games by a combined six points, two games going to overtime, one in the regional championship, the other two in the semifinals to Scott.
If they’re to get back to that level, the youth of the program will be helping guide them there.