Many teams judge success by how they've improved over the season before and considering the Montgomery County varsity girls basketball team went form 3-7 Eastern Missouri Conference in 2016-17 to 7-3 this season, the squad seems like its moving in the proper direction.
No team ever wants to lose a 1,000 point scorer like Kayla Schmidt, but because the Wildcats are only losing three players to graduation, Madison Davenport and Anna Ellul being the other two, it won't be impossible for head coach Joe Basinger to keep this effort moving forward. Now the team, new and experienced, has to all get on the same page and immediately start working towards next season because that's what it takes to be a champion.
"I thought at the beginning of the year we had an outside chance to compete for a District and Conference championship. I felt like we competed well and towards the end of the year really started playing our best basketball," Basinger said. "We got beat in the district Semifinals, we were hoping to get to a district championship to try to take that next step."
One way Basinger hopes to hone this teams skills during the offseason is with summer shootouts on June 11 and 18. Considering Montgomery County went 14-13 overall during the regular season that certainly gives him a solid platform to build from, but since he's scored zero points in his career for this program, the desire has to be there from a wealth of different spots on the roster if Basinger's hopes and dreams for the Wildcat's are evr going to become a reality.
"Our worst lost was by 15, to the conference champion. We return seven girls that started at some point in time this year and eight or nine letter winners," said Basinger. "If they will make a commitment to the gym this summer, it will be interesting to see how they stack up next year."
Now that these girls know what they have to do and where they're trying to go, the example they have to draw from was how they began to peak exactly when it counted the most. Prior to that this squad might have been slightly panicked because it felt like they were about to freefall into an abyss after a season that began with such promise. Fortunately that experience also taught them to beleive in themselves and to get back up after each and every time they get knocked down.
"The best part was how we were playing our best basketball late in the season. You always want to be playing your best heading into districts and I felt like we were doing that this year," Basinger said. "The worst was when we went through a slump in January and I hope we learn that we have to come out and compete every night or we will lose games we shouldn't."