No one on the Lady Bruins’ roster has state tournament experience.
For a group that was one win away from playing beyond the region tournament last season, that fact is motivational fuel.
Without much size but plenty of speed, second-year coach Greg Brown hopes to run teams off the court this season, especially with an experienced point guard in Halle Ford. The junior has started since her freshman season in Tunnel Hill.
“We’re not very big,” Brown said, “but we’re very fast, and we’re just trying to play a lot of ‘Here we come.’”
Four seniors are the other projected starters: center Sarah Thomas, guards Alice Ann Barber and Autumn Blackwell and guard/forward Kaitlin Wade. The latter started last season. Fellow seniors Mackenzie Mastin, Liz Trew and Maddie Richards join juniors Mallory Souther, Macy Weeks and Kerrigan King in the 11-deep rotation designed to set a tough pace.
“We want to wear them down and keep them running,” Wade said. “When they are dying in the fourth, we won’t be.”
That’s a different style from last season, when the Lady Bruins relied heavily on senior center Carley Fetzer, a selection to The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Girls Basketball Team, and senior guards Marissa Fraire and Taylor Baker, both of whom earned honorable mention.
“We lost some size,” Brown said, “but we’ve got some more size coming. It’s just a little bit young. We want to play fast.”
The Lady Bruins went 15-11 last season, with their year ending with a 52-34 loss to Forsyth Central in the Region 7-4A tournament quarterfinals, where a win would have equaled a berth in the state tourney. In the new Region 7-4A that includes Dalton and Southeast, the goal is to go at least one game beyond a year ago.
“I guess the biggest thing with this group is I don’t have anybody on the roster who has played in a state tournament game,” Brown said. “That’s probably the first time that’s happened at Northwest in a long time. I have a highly motivated group to get back.”
Northwest opens its season Tuesday against Woodland-Bartow in the Southeast Hoopfest.