Sports > Schools
Queens of the court: Lady Wolves look like royalty early in the season
The Plano West girls basketball team won their 11th straight game to start the season Tuesday night.
Yet the Lady Wolves were back at work at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and head coach Don Patterson was in midseason form as he referenced several problems the team had in its 63-48 victory over Rowlett the night before and critiqued various players for not rotating properly on the press.
Which begs the question, does Patterson know West is undefeated?
"Yeah, he's aware," said Randi Reinhardt, West senior, with a chuckle. "But he wants us to stay that way."
"That's why we do the things we do, that's why I do the things I do," Patterson added. "It's not always about who we play, it's about how we play, because you can win but still develop bad habits that can hurt you down the road."
They haven't hurt West thus far as the team has risen to No. 3 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 5A state poll and their 11-0 record prior to the Collin County Roundball Classic represented the best start in program history.
"That is fantastic because ... I've got to be honest ... I love having that target, I love being chased," Reinhardt said. "We don't really look that intimidating, but once other teams get on the court with us they are like, 'Oh, maybe these girls can play.'
But the Lady Wolves aren't stopping at a new program record.
"That's really good and we are definitely excited," said Devri Owens, West senior, "but it's minor compared to where we want to be."
"It's nice that we've set a new record because you always want to be the first to accomplish something and be that team to standout," added Tyara Warren-Cox, West junior. "But that's also one of the reasons coach is always on us to do better; he knows where we want to be."
They made that clear at the start of the season.
"Every year we sit down with the girls and they tell us what their goals are," Patterson said. "This year, the girls came back and unanimously said they wanted to get to the regional tournament and then the state tournament."
That might seem like a lofty goal considering West has only made it to regionals once (2006-07) since winning the Class 5A State Championship in 2005-06, but this team has the credentials to believe such a run is possible.
The Lady Wolves have three starters (Owens, Warren-Cox, Reinhardt) and three heavy-minute reserves (seniors Allison Staley, Grace Horn, sophomore Sydney Skinner) back from last year. That team posted the best win percentage in team history (34-3), went undefeated to capture the District 8-5A Title, advanced to the regional quarterfinals for a fourth straight time and hung the only loss on eventual state champ Duncanville.
"We have a good core from last season," Patterson said. "And just like last season, these girls have shown they are capable of fighting through adversity; when things aren't going well, they find something inside them and make things start to go well."
Such was the case two weeks ago in the Lady Eagle Hoopfest when West overcame an 8-point deficit in the final two minutes and captured a 55-49 victory over John Paul II.
The win was big, especially considering West went on to finish first in the tournament, but it wasn't the game that stood out most this season.
"Cedar Hill," Warren-Cox said. "That was the perfect example of what our team can be when everyone shines."
West entered the Nov. 9 game ranked No. 8 with Cedar Hill at No. 9 and jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first quarter. Owens and Warren-Cox led all scorers with 30 and 21 points, respectively, while varsity newcomers Kaelin Montgomery (junior) and Natalie Chou (freshman) put down seven points each.
"We were all nervous but excited for that game," Owens said. "We knew they were good, but we're good too and our defense really worked that night."
"That was the closest to our best we have played all season," Reinhardt added.
When the team starts to stray from its best, they are quick to hear about it.
"If we have a bad practice or are dragging, coach will say, 'Can you get to Austin like that, no.'" Warren-Cox said.
"We discuss making it to state quite a bit, especially if we are having a bad practice and coach will be like, 'Oh, you think you can make it to state like that,'" Owens added. "But I think it's good coach does that; it keeps us level headed. We may be undefeated now, but if we go out and lose in the playoffs then what did any of that really mean."
West upped its record-setting mark to 14-0 heading into the Gold bracket of the Roundball Classic with wins over Carrollton Newman Smith, Coppell and Sherman.
"We'd love to go undefeated ... it's a nice goal to have," Patterson said. "But if we lose a game or two during the regular season, the key is to learn from it so we will be prepared come playoffs."
And to hopefully be prepared for a trip to Austin.
"This team knows each other so well and we are so motivated," Owens said. "If we stay away from injuries and stick together, I really do believe we can make it to state."