Starkville High School girls coach Kristie Williams, right, talks to her team during a timeout on Tuesday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The offseason for most sports teams is spent dwelling on the previous season and what went wrong if it's not holding a trophy.
That is not the case for the Starkville High School girls' basketball team. They are competing in the summer high school basketball league at the Starkville Sportsplex this summer.
"As far as we are concerned, it is helping us to look at all our weaknesses and fine tune areas that we know that will have to get better before we play that first game in November," SHS girls head coach Kristie Williams said.
Some of those weaknesses were shown in a 38-34 overtime loss to Winston Academy Tuesday night. The Lady Jackets held a two-point lead late in fourth quarter but could not hold onto the ball.
"We have to work harder on our ball-handling and understanding the little things in the course of a game," Williams said. "Our ball-handling has to get better and that is why I am enjoying this summer league because the teams we've played so far have pushed us to the limit. They are making our weaknesses come out and we have to understand how to adjust to that defensive pressure in front of us."
The Lady Yellowjackets are losing five seniors from last season's squad and two starters in Brittany Brown and Jacqueline Fair. That doesn't seem to worry Williams who believes players like Kelsye Reed, Kasey Jett and Imane Montgomery are going to step up this year.
"We have three players back that had some good experience last season," Williams said. "They were able to see a different aspect because they were playing a good piece of every game we've played. We are expecting them to step up big, but we are also expecting some of our younger players to step in right away and help take control."
Reed and Jett are seniors, while Montgomery is a sophomore. They are going to be the ones Williams looks to lead her team.
"My three veterans understand what it takes to get to that level," Williams said. "They have been working hard in practice helping some of our younger ones understand that once you step on the floor, you have to stay focused and you have to give your best every single time."
The Lady Jackets are coming off a loss in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Williams also wants this summer to be about playing and getting some of the younger girls some experience.
"This summer league allows us to be on the court playing instead of not doing anything," Williams said. "It gives some of our younger ones an opportunity to finally get out there on the floor and play against some quality competition that is going to push them do to their very best. Maybe as they progress through, they will understand that I have to give my best at all times."
SHS plays again Thursday at 5 p.m. against Oak Hill Academy.
(Editor's Note: This is a story in a series highlighting high school basketball teams participating in the league at the Starkville Sportsplex. Other teams are scheduled to be featured throughout the summer.)
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