By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The problem that faced the 2012-13 Brighton Lady Cardinals was an inexperienced roster.
Head Coach Kent Cates entered his first year as the man in charge trying to navigate his team through a competitive District 13-3A schedule. The Lady Cardinals battled and Cates graduated six seniors including All-District guard Alaina Bierdz.
“We were led by our senior class and they have laid a foundation of hard work and a drive that will allow us to grow as a team and as individuals for a promising future,” Cates said after last season’s district tournament.
Now entering the 2013-14 season, building off the previous campaign will be done by a roster without a single senior.
“We’re a team that’s going to work hard,” Cates said. “We’re going to go the full time, the whole 32 minutes. The girls are working really hard but we just don’t have a lot of basketball experience. We’ve got one girl who is a returning starter. And she only started half of the year, Shayna Johnson.”
Johnson will be a sophomore captain on the team. She will be one of the featured athletes in Cates’ backcourt. Brighton will have two more captains coming from the junior class.
“I got a good group of juniors who will be leaders like Lilly Hill, Kaelyn Forbes and Shayna,” Cates said. “They’ll all be captains. Shayna is the third captain and she’s a sophomore. But she’ll have a lot of on-the-floor leadership. They’re all great kids and hard workers. They’re great in the classroom. So on and off the court, they work hard and they’re leaders.”
Cates said smart students make good basketball players. Throughout the preseason the Lady Cardinals have been working on intensity drills. The second-year head coach said keys to victory for his team will include transition and easy baskets, offensive rebounds and defensive pressure leading to steals.
“I think we have an opportunity to win a couple of district games this season,” he said. “We’re going to play from buzzer to buzzer.”
The Lady Cardinals will compete against Dyer County, Hardin County and defending league champions the Munford Lady Cougars. Cates said Munford should be the favorites returning talent like Kierra Richardson.
Cates said his young talent will mature throughout the season and the next layer in the program he’s building will emerge.
“These are all freshmen and sophomores I’m talking about,” he concluded. “So you can be on or off any night. These are all wonderful kids I’m talking about. They work hard and do everything we ask them to do and more. And that’s going to pay off for us.”