The Winder-Barrow High School Lady Bulldoggs basketball team made important strides on the court last season.
Now, coach Brandon Thomas is hoping to take additional steps during the upcoming 2014-2015 campaign. With that in mind, the players embarked on a summer filled with plenty of work.
“Our main approach this summer was two-fold,” Thomas said. “One was to improve our individual skill level and therefore become more effective pieces of the team puzzle. Our second goal was to build chemistry. We have a large group of seniors with varsity experience and a very small class of juniors and sophomores. We also have a talented group of freshmen coming in. So, in essence, we had two groups coming into the summer: seniors and everyone else. We focused on building chemistry between young and old this summer and to get an idea who can compete at the varsity level come next season.”
Local scrimmages with North Oconee and Athens Academy and a workout with Kennesaw Mountain took place.
The team also attended a basketball camp at Reinhardt College.
“It’s our third summer attending and we have improved each year,” Thomas said. “The girls look forward to camp and dread it at the same time. It’s a camp unlike any other in the state and the camp motto is ‘Daylight to Midnight.’”
That motto is not something that is an exaggeration.
“On one day of camp, we literally played ball from daylight to midnight,” Thomas said. “We took 19 girls to camp, competed in 20 games as two teams in four days. We participated in morning fundamentals for three hours and I’m proud to say that no one sat out or missed a rotation in the games. It is a testament to the girls willingness to work hard and get better.”
Other teams attending the camp were Habersham Central, North Oconee, Union Grove, Norcross, 3 teams from Alabama, Ware County and Strong Rock Christian.
The camp ends with several competitions and awards.
Two of Winder-Barrow’s younger players — Antoria Johnson and Latrice Perkins — made it to the semi-finals of the 1-on-1 tournament. Perkins was pitted against a talented player from Norcross in a 1-on-1 game in front of the whole camp, consisting of 155 players. The two tied in regulation and Perkins eventually fell on free throws.
“She and Johnson represented our team well,” Thomas said.
Hannah Easterling represented the Lady Bulldoggs in the 3-point shoot out. She made 15 baskets from 3-point range in a practice round, but the eventual winner from Alabama made 19 baskets in 60 seconds during the competition.
“All of our seniors performed well at camp,” Thomas said. “They provided leadership and toughness. At awards time, we took home three all-star awards and one super-five award. It’s the first time we’ve had someone nominated for super-five, which is to be recognized as one of the 5 best players at camp.”
Coaches from attending schools recognized Lakeisha Hall, Latrica Perkins, Tiera Mayweather and Olivia Nelson-Ododa as candidates from WBHS for these awards.
“Lakeisha seems to be camp favorite among coaches,” Thomas said. “She has often been nominated for individual station awards because her hard work and positive attitude stand out.”
The players and coaches are eager for the new season.
“Our seniors will be setting official goals in the fall,” Thomas said. “I know they are already focused on ending the 20-year drought of not qualifying for the state tournament. They will also want to build on the 10 wins from last season. Participating in girls basketball at WBHS has become a tough, but meaningful, experience and the girls want it to show on the court and scoreboard as well.”
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