The Whiteoak Lady Wildcats will play hard this year — and they’ll have to if they want to improve on last year’s 5-17 record while filling the gaps left by graduated players.
“We’ve got some pretty big holes to fill,” said second-year coach Randy Abbott.
Abbott told The Times-Gazette the team is coming into the season with a lot of challenges, mainly having to do with numbers.
The Lady Wildcats will first have to overcome a 28-point-per-game deficit from graduated players. After that, it’s a matter of improving game to game.
“Naturally, we want to win the league,” Abbott said. “I hate to hear coaches say ‘It’s a rebuilding year,’ but our numbers are down, and so are a lot of other teams. We have 13 kids to fill the roster in varsity and the reserves, and we’ve had one injured lately, so we’ve been down to 12.”
Even so, Abbott said, the team shows some promise, and not just from the upperclassmen.
“We’re having kids step up,” Abbott said. “The players who work the hardest and the smartest can expect starting positions.”
Abbott said a key part of the team’s practices lately has been defense.
“We work every day on defense,” he said. “We feel like our key is to pressure the ball and do a lot of things with defense. We hope that’ll carry over into our offense, but first we have to play good defense, so we work on it every day.”
If their defense work pays off, Abbott said the Wildcats have a shot at some wins.
“If we can play good defense, we’re going to be in some ball games,” he said. “But if we don’t do that, we’ll be hurting. There are teams out there that are better than us. We know that. But if we can look down at the end of the game and see we outrebounded them we’ll know we did a good job. The score may come out in favor of the other team, but we’ve just got to execute. We’ve got to do things right and get disciplined. And that’s our goal each and every night.”
Even with all the challenges, Abbott said playing hard goes a long way.
“One of the key strengths the team definitely has is heart. These girls play hard. In the end, we want to improve on last season’s record,” he said. “And if the girls are playing hard, I think we can.”
David Wright is the sports editor for The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at 937-402-2570.