Lady Bobcats look to improve on last basketball season
Last updated 11/20/2023 at 12:45pm
The Orangefield girls basketball program played its first season under their new head coach last year. The Lady Bobcats should be even more competitive in this second season with a new mentor.
The Lady Bobcats had a good year, but it was a frustrating season. Orangefield lost several games on last second shots including four district games by a combined total of eight points.
Orangefield Coach Eric Girola summarized the season for him and the Lady Bobcats. "Last year was a lot of learning for me on my end. It was my first time ever moving to a different school, so I didn't really know how that process was going to play out and honestly didn't know how long it was going to take for it to truly feel like I was putting my finger print on it. It took a lot longer than I thought, and that's okay. I think towards the very end of the season I finally got a feeling that it was starting to become my team and doing things a certain way that we want to do them. It was a little frustrating, but I learned a lot from it, and that's the important thing," Girola responded.
The summer prior to this school year was productive. Girola described, "We had a great summer. I had a lot of kids that really bought in to improving over the summer."
Orangefield was young last season for the most part. Only two Lady Bobcats were lost to graduation so a number of the members of the varsity return for this year.
Senior Greenlea Oldham will be a top player this year for Orangefield at the post. The coach said Oldham is a good team leader in addition to her being a major force under the glass.
Outside is senior Kaylea Gravett who was honorable mention on the all-district team in her junior year. "Probably for our team Kaylea was one of the most improved players overall last year," Girola stated.
Another returning senior is Bri Moore. Girola added, "Bri and Kaylea played a lot last year as juniors, and I think they gained a lot from it. When the girls play they're going to get better they're going to gain experience. They got a lot of experience last year which is going to hopefully help us this year."
Kennedy Thibodeaux and Ava Dyer are seniors who will see more playing time this season. That gives Girola five seniors to build around on this year's Orangefield varsity.
In addition to the seniors there are some other Lady Bobcats who have varsity experience. Brooklyn Wagoner and Steeley Franklin are sophomores this year who played a lot as freshmen.
Moving up from the junior varsity is Rebecca Durbin a junior. Durbin is a good post player who can backup Oldham.
Addisyn Moore is Bri's younger sister. Addisyn will help out the Lady Bobcats at the guard position.
Two freshmen are on the varsity roster as the season has begun. Mikayla Locke will be the starting point guard and is a good all-around athlete.
Paisley Reeves is the second freshman on the Lady Bobcat varsity. "Paisley also brings a little bit different presence at the post position than the other girls we have there. Paisley is long, but she can run and she can jump, very athletic. She's a great rebounder. She always finds herself around the ball. Paisley's going to be a big help," Girola predicted.
The first game of the season for Orangefield was an impressive win at Port Neches-Groves. The Lady Bobcats won 66-28 over PNG.
Mikayla Locke was the high scorer for Orangefield with 21 points. Brooklyn Wagoner also finished in double figures scoring 14 points. Ava Dyer and Rebecca Durbin both chipped in with 8 points.
The Lady Bobcats played strong defense with Kaylea Gravett and Wagoner both having 3 steals in the game. Rebounding was handled by Paisley Reeves with 8 boards and Greenlea Oldham pulling down 6 rebounds.
Girola was impressed with both of his freshmen in their first varsity games. "Mikayla Locke was our leading scorer, and Paisley Reeves was our leading rebounder. They're making pretty quick impacts right off the bat," Girola observed.
"It was a complete team win because we had Brooklyn Wagoner hit I think four threes. It was a good team win with good team defense," Girola replied.
Newton came to Orangefield for the second game which was another win for the Lady Bobcats. Locke again was a leading scorer for Orangefield, and it was a solid team victory.
Girola expounded, "I'm excited. I think we have the potential to be very solid if we can just continue to improve and not dip. As the season goes we just want to keep taking steps forward no matter how big or small. I think if we can do that we have a good chance at being very competitive."
The expectations are high for the Orangefield Lady Bobcats. "We're trying to win a district championship. I think that's fully within our grasp. Like I said earlier I feel like we had a really good summer. We had girls up here working out everyday coming to skill sessions, putting in work, playing basketball over the summer, they went to several tournaments where they played with each other, and kind of got some chemistry going. The girls have invested a lot, they've put the time in, and now I really expect for us to see the fruits of those labors. The expectations are high for me, I set the bar high, I think we can achieve it. We just need to continue to just move forward each day and don't take any steps back. We have the makings of a really good season and seasons to come. If we can keep these girls together it can be really special," Girola concluded.