The 2018-19 version of the Whiteoak Lady Wildcats varsity basketball team is likely to pass the one win plateau set by the 2017-18 team but not by much as the team continues to rebuild itself.
Lady Wildcats Head Coach Steve Smith understands the limitations of his team but expects key returning members from the 2017-18 team to be even better this season.
“Cylee Bratton should have a good year, she was our leading scorer last year as a sophomore. She is probably the best player we have,” said Smith. “Kara Ward played point guard as a freshman last year so, she has a year of experience and will do better. Liz Edwards, a junior, she played her freshman year, didn’t play last year. She gives us a little more size in the post and is a real aggressive rebounder. Going to play a couple of girls that have not played a whole lot. Kayla Jones is probably going to start for us, she played a little last year. I look to play all of them, with 11 girls it is not hard to get everyone playing time.”
The Whiteoak coach feels that the team is ahead of where it was a year ago at the same time, “To a certain point i think we are ahead because we have a lot of returning players that played for me last year, so I think it is an advantage starting into this year.”
Smith is excited to have many of the same girls back on the team this season and he thinks that will help with the team’s success, but he is still trying to keep everything in perspective as he continues to push through a rebuild that could last years.
“The fact that I have a lot of returners. Going into this year I have a good nucleus to build towards next year,” said Smith. “I am trying to build the program back up, it is going to take three or four years. Our eighth grade class only has three girls, but the seventh grade class has 13 with eight or nine really good athletes. Looking towards the future I’m excited, I think the future is going to be better.”
Smith understands that his team will likely have a rough year again in 2018-19 but he thinks they can pick up a few more wins along the way this time.
“It’s going to be another rough year like last year was. We are going to take some losses, but I think we have improved and I think we will win a couple of games this year,” Smith said.
When asked how he thought his team would fare in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference this year Smith was brutally honest when he said, “We are going to be towards the bottom of the league. There is no doubt we don’t have the amount of girls, don’t have the talent and our league is strong. Eastern Brown, Lynchburg and Fairfield are going to be strong.”
Smith said his goal for the girls this year is for them “stay in games” and to “cut the margin of loss down to where we are at least competing in games.”
Ryan Applegate is the sports editor for The Times-Gazette. Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.