The Washington girls basketball team is hoping that 2017 will bring a change of fortunes to its season.

The Lady Panthers (4-7) ended 2016 at the Manual Holiday Tournament, splitting its four games with a 2-2 record.

“In the new year we want to be able to finish our close games and we want to be on the opposite end of the way our games have been,” coach Kim Holdenrid said. “We really believe that we will turn it around and that the ball will bounce the right way for us.”

Washington earned back-to-back wins in the first day of the tournament, registering a 52-45 win over Lanphier in the opener and a 50-39 win over host Manual Dec. 27.

“It’s always nice to get some wins,” Holdenrid said. “We don’t want to make a habit out of losing.”

The next day, Dec. 28, the Lady Panthers had their win streak snapped, falling to Peoria Notre Dame 46-35 and Moline 59-55.

With only four seniors on the roster, the Panthers look to underclassmen to provide a jolt of energy and scoring.

Sophomore’s Sierra Sonnemaker and Anne Peters stood out in the tournament for Washington, each having multiple double-digit scoring performances.

“Sierra has stepped up big inside. We need to make sure we keep getting her the ball. We have been working on that in practice a lot and we need to keep doing that,” Holdenrid said. “Anne has been huge for us as well, hitting shots and stepping up when we need her.”

Holdenrid believes that there have been vast improvements over the past two weeks.

“The biggest improvement we have made is that we’re now putting the ball in the basket,” Holdenrid said. “We’re figuring out how we are playing together.”

One of Washington’s main senior leaders has returned to the floor after a lengthy absence.

Point guard Lauren Ely suffered a concussion that cost her two weeks of the season.

The concussion that she suffered was her second within a calendar year.

Due to the long-term health concerns, and with the rest of the season in mind, Ely was sidelined. 

“(Ely) is getting back into playing now,” Holdenrid said. “It will definitely help having her back.”

The Lady Panthers have struggled early in contests this season.

In a majority of games, Washington has trailed after the first quarter, something that Holdenrid is hoping will change.

“We still need to find ways to play 32 full minutes,” said Holdenrid. “We seem to always get down at the beginning of the first half.”

The main place that Washington is looking to find its growth is at practice, where Holdenrid believes she is seeing improvement every day.

“At practice we have really been trying to find ways to play a full 32 minutes of play with no let downs,” Holdenrid said. “I think we are really going to be tough once we figure it out.”

Washington travels to Pekin for a Mid-Illini Conference game at 7 p.m. Friday.