Girls basketball: Riverside looks to improve on seven-win seasons
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The seven victories collected last season by the Riverside girls basketball program matched the seven it won during 2011-12 campaign.
But for Riverside Coach Scott Garretson, the quality of the team's play outweighed the quantity of its wins.
"Our games last season were a lot more competitive than they've been in the past," said Garretson, who will enter his ninth season with the program, and second as head coach. "There were a lot of games that would have been a 20- to 30-point loss in the past against some of the higher-ranked teams that were more like a 10- to 12-point loss last year.
"We were in every game and we were never blown out from the start like in the past. I felt like we competed well in almost every game we played every single night. There was rarely a game where we were really overmatched, which we had seen quite a few times in the past."
The Warriors also won a sectional contest for the first time in more than 10 years.
Garretson hopes the program continues its upswing as the team reassembles for the out-of-season coaching period.
So far, Garretson, whose team returns at least its top six players, likes what he's seen.
"We played in the George Washington Shootout and we finished 2-1, which felt good to get those two wins," he said. "The best thing about those wins were that we only had two of our returning starters present for that tournament."
Senior Rachael Mills didn't play in the tournament due to a leg injury, senior LaMontica Burger was out of town, and senior Sheree Clayborn is uncertain whether she wants to return to the team.
"We were playing that tournament with a lot of new girls, which is encouraging," Garretson said.
The Warriors should have Burger back today when they begin play in the 44-team St. Albans Summer Shootout.
Also back for the Warriors are senior point guard Kara Knapp and junior center Brittany Wood, who earned 3rd team All-State honors last year after averaging 16.5 points and 11.7 rebounds per contest.
Garretson also is excited to have his top two reserves returning in senior guard Rachel Daw and sophomore guard Julie Bishop.
"Experience will definitely be a benefit for us with our starters returning," Garretson said. "But we have three or four freshmen that are coming up too. The best thing about them is that they're the ones showing up the most for our summer workouts. They've been here everyday and that's been a positive."
Despite the positive strides that program has taken, there have been a few down notes during the summer workout period.
"There are three returning players that dressed varsity for us last year that haven't shown up for the three-week period," Garretson said. "That's been a disappointment because they were my bench last year, with a chance to come back and contribute this year. I think they all need to be here because they can't expect to come back in November and be better than they were when the season ended last year if they don't participate with the team.
"The more games they play, the better they're going to be. You can do all the drills in the world, but I want them playing other teams because you get better by playing. This group needs to know that.
"They just need to get out on the court and play."
Contact sportswriter Michael Dailey at email@example.com or 304-348-1735.