First-year Bethlehem Christian Academy girls’ basketball head coach Lashon Steele said she is “competitive in everything I do,” and she wants that to be reflected in her team’s performance as the Lady Knights are setting their goals high this season.
“We’re going to compete and my goal, and our goal as a team, is to try to win a region championship and make a run in the playoffs,” said Steele, whose team opened its regular season Tuesday, Nov. 19, against Westminster Christian of Watkinsville. “We want to compete hard every day, night in and night out, and show our fans, show BCA, that we can win.”
Steele is the fourth head coach in the span of three seasons for the Lady Knights, but she is more than familiar with the program, having worked under Karen Parker in the 2017-18 season as an assistant, along with her husband, William Steele, who is in his first season as the BCA boys’ head coach.
Steele has also coached in the Gwinnett Basketball League, a feeder league to the high school programs in Gwinnett County.
Steele will look to provide stability for a Lady Knights program that hired Mike Griggs for the 2018-19 campaign but had to replace him with assistant Julie Cavoretto midway through the season due to a school policy violation. And she’ll have a veteran group of players to help her with that.
While the Knights graduated two seniors, including one of their better all-around players in Olivia Morgan, from a team that went 12-16 last season and lost in the first round of the state playoffs, six starters or girls with varsity experience are back. Some of those key returners include seniors Rebekah Doolittle and Katherine Gano, junior Brooke Peevy and sophomore Jadyn Goddard.
“We have a strong core in place,” Steele said. “We’ve got about three or four other players who have not played but have made great strides over the summer into now. We don’t have the depth right now that most teams want, but we’re getting them into shape and strengthening their knowledge of the game.”
Steele said a potential strength for the team is defense while the team will work to be more effective on the offensive end and scoring more fast-break points. That has been an Achilles’ heel the past couple of seasons for the Lady Knights, who have generated steals but have also committed numerous turnovers off scoring opportunities.
Getting better in that area is “going to be a point of emphasis,” Steele said. “It all goes back to the fundamentals, honing in on our passing and strengthening our basketball IQ. If a play breaks down, we need to be able to pull out of it and hit another option, and that’s something that maybe they’ve not been taught previously.”
And before the Lady Knights begin their eight-game GISA Region 4-AAA slate Jan. 10 against Augusta Prep, they will be well-tested with a rigorous non-region schedule. BCA will compete in a Thanksgiving tournament at Douglas County, where it will face Douglas County on Nov. 22 and Alcovy on Nov. 23. Games against other GHSA opponents at home against Providence Christian on Dec. 3, at Johnson-Gainesville on Dec. 10, home against Social Circle on Dec. 14, at North Gwinnett on Dec. 17 and at Commerce on Jan. 7 also await.
“That’s something we wanted to do,” Steele said. “How else can you test what you have if you’re not playing those kinds of teams? I’m going to push them to the limit. They know me and know they’re going to have to give me 110 percent at all times when they’re out on the floor.
“Otherwise they’re going to be on the bench, watching the game with me.”