New coach kicks off girls’ basketball season


Junior Addie Stone looks to pass the ball while junior Cheyann Baldwin defends. The team lost to Carroll that night, 43-51.

The girl’s basketball season started on Nov. 21, during Thanksgiving break. With the loss of last year’s seniors and losing record with a few seasons, new head coach Chalisa Branch said the team is trying to have a big comeback this year.

“[This season has] been a learning experience for us,” Branch said. “We’ve had some bright spots in games, and then we definitely had some not so bright spots. Each game, what we’re looking at is getting us prepared for district.”

The team has been working hard with scrimmages, tournaments and practices. Both the varsity and junior varsity teams have been preparing for the season by putting their all in preseason and the few games they have played.

“We have a new coach who is really good,” varsity player Aleena Jacob said. “She knows how to work with everyone’s abilities and we know we work well together. From how preseason went, I think it’ll be a good season because we having been winning a lot of our games.”

So far, Branch has been teaching the girls to adjust to her style of coaching. Jacob said she has inspired the team to become more motivated to put all their energy into each game.

“[The coaches are] really adamant about certain plays that we do, and they also want us to work our hardest and not be lazy ever,” JV player Zebedee Gonzales said. “I think [we] will do better than last year because we have a new coach and I think she’s good for us.”

The team has begun making goals for itself; part of playing as a team is working together, and not letting one person lead the whole game.

“I definitely think our team is held together by two sophomores, Sierra Dickson and Daxia Milton,” Jacob said. “They are our strongest players, and one of our biggest things is to help them out so they don’t have to be the only ones scoring.”

The girls have all gotten along with the coach well, and Branch said she really enjoys working with a new team.

“They’re hard workers,”  Branch said. “They’re all very coachable, if I ask them to run through a wall, they’re going to do it without asking any questions.”

Since the last few seasons have looked pretty bleak, the girls are excited about Branch coaching them this year.

“[Branch] had to take a program that was really broken and had to make us better and fix us,” Jacob said. “She’s done a really good job so far being strict and enforcing us, but also having fun with it.”

This year, the team has been placing more attention of organization and consistency; knowing which plays are being utilized at what time has been a large part of their practices. Branch has been coaching for nearly 19 years and has been exposed to many different teams. Her goal is to strengthen the good aspects of the team and build up the weaknesses. Even though this is her first year with the team, she has put all her strength and ambition into encouraging them to do their best.

“I know it’s a process, [and maybe] it’s just me being competitive, but I definitely [want to] make the playoffs,” Branch said. “I mean, is it unrealistic? I don’t think so. I think we got the kids, the hard workers, and if they put in the extra time, if they make that commitment, I think we can make a push to make the playoffs.”