Rebuilding the starting lineup

Coach Matthew Sutherland must rebuild after three of the five starters graduate

Sophomore+Gabby+Elliott+fights+for+a+rebound+during+last+year%27s+regular-season+finale+against+Steele.

Daisy Bermes

Sophomore Gabby Elliott fights for a rebound during last year’s regular-season finale against Steele.

Dylan Smith, Sports writer

“The goal is to win.”

That may be an obvious quote but it is true.

The girls basketball season starts Dec. 11. Following a 27-8 record and a first-round playoff loss to Austin Westlake last season, they’ll look to make a deeper playoff run this season.

“The goal is to win,” head coach Matthew Sutherland said. “Even with all the strengths and weaknesses we have found, we have identified and have gotten better at each of those. We have had a lot of injuries [in the past], so we got a lot of minutes and experience off the bench.”

Because of injuries and graduation last season, many players gained key experience. Now, with three starters lost to graduation, those role players will have to step into larger roles.

“Our supporting role [players], Morgan [Abbott], …freshman Allison Howe and pretty much across the board are going to have to step up and support our two returning All-District players, Trinity Garrett and Gabby Elliott. Those girls are really going to [have to] step up and perform in order for us to be a well rounded team and beat those tough teams in our district.”

They will need those players to play well against good teams, and there are so many good teams to play in District 27-6A. 

“Every game in district is highly important,” Sutherland said. “I think that New Braunfels, Clemens [and] Wagner, and then Judson and Steele, have an upper hand in our district. They are the teams to beat and what we have to do is win the other games to put yourself in a position to make the playoffs. 

“We obviously want to compete with Steele and Judson but I think they are going to be extremely successful going across, so I think it is important that we beat Clemens and Wagner and New Braunfels to solidify ourselves a three or four spot [in the playoffs].”

With so many quality district opponents, the Rangers have to take a different approach to this season than they did last year.

“It’s a different team,” Sutherland said. “We have to make adjustments every year. We are not able to run the same defense as last year because we are not as athletic and fast and long. We are struggling to find the adjustments to fit us best. It has been a learning curve and process. We are learning [from] game to game.”

The teams are tough, but coronavirus protocols may be tougher. The pandemic threw a wrench into the season so far, but they have taken action to help keep the season going.

“[COVID-19 protocols have] definitely made people more conscious of their behaviours,” Sutherland said. “We split our groups with the varsity and jv a little bit more. We really try to take care of ourselves individually and try to stop the spread.” 

Girls basketball will start their season at East Central at 7:00 p.m. Friday.