Washington girls basketball is in transition.
After competing for a 3A sectional championship last year behind a senior-laden team, the Lady Panthers (2-7) are struggling to find the winning formula this year.
“We are trying to figure out how our talents fits into the puzzle,” coach Kim Holdenrid said.
This season, Washington has an influx of youth that has filled in, leaving only four seniors on the roster.
The transition to the varsity level has proven to be a challenge for the youth of the team.
“The pace of a varsity game is different than that of a sophomore game,” Holdenrid said. “A lot of these girls had to get used to that.”
Holdenrid said the team has struggled early in games. A prime example is its Dec. 13 game against Limestone, where Washington trailed by 17 points at halftime.
Despite the large deficit, Washington was able to comeback in the second half to tie the game, before eventually losing 47-45.
“It would’ve been easy for them to just give up and throw in the towel,” said Holdenrid. “It shows their character and that they believe in the program and they believe in themselves.”
One of the leaders on the team is returning senior Lauren Ely.
However, Ely suffered a concussion — her second in one year — earlier this season, which has sidelined her for the majority of the campaign.
“We are trying to let her rest right now and get better,” Holdenrid said. “She has played at the varsity level since she was a sophomore. She has stepped into a leadership role.”
Junior Josie Morgan has also elevated her game this year. The 5-foot 2-inch guard has been playing point guard since Ely has been sidelined.
“We are pushing the ball more on offense more this year because we have a smaller team,” Morgan said. “We haven’t all played together much so we are trying to figure out how we are going to play.”
In the middle, sophomore Sierra Sonnemaker is attempting to replace the production of Madi McCoy, who graduated last year.
“We are working on trying to fill in those roles that we lost. For me, I am trying to replace what Madi was able to do in the past,” Sonnemaker said. “We also need someone who is going to step up and be the positive person who when we are down is going to uplift us.”
“Sierra played last season and she is a ton in the post,” Holdenrid said. “We just have to make a conscious attempt to get her the ball.”
With all of the new faces attempting to jell together, Holdenrid said the team has come together to form unique friendships.
“The girls play hard, they love each other and they are more than just teammates, they get along off of the court which will help later in the year,” Holdenrid said.
“We need to find ways to find a win and once we get another win, we will have a boost in confidence,” Sonnemaker said. “It will become easier for us to win.”
With a winning tradition, the Lady Panthers will look to the past in order to gain the confidence of winning games.
Holdenrid believes that her team will be able to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way.
“Losing can become a bad habit,” Holdenrid said. “It is definitely not one we want to have come the end of the season.”