‘We’re ready;’ Senior-less Patriots set to surprise


The 22-23 Girls Varsity Basketball Team on Media Day (photo by Russell Dearing).

Russell Dearing, Staff Writer

No seniors? No problem for the Patriots.

Homewood’s women’s basketball players and coaches alike have set high goals for this upcoming season, despite lacking the experience that comes from senior players. The squad is undaunted, however, and believes it can achieve its goals this season.

The Patriots finished 17-13 this past year, placing third in their region and later falling in the area tournament, crushing their post-season aspirations. 

But junior captain Kayla Warren has far from moved past that disappointing result and comes into this year more motivated than ever. She sees last year as a “rebuilding year,” which is why she anticipates how far she can lead her teammates this year. 

“This year we definitely have something to build off of,” Warren said. “[We] definitely have created a lot more chemistry, put in a lot more work.”

 Warren went on to underscore just how different the approach to this season has been compared to the last.

“Practices are definitely a bit harder this year,” she said. 

One main reason why the preseason has been tougher than usual this year actually falls on Warren’s shoulders. Unlike most teams in the country, Homewood rosters zero seniors. But of course, Warren, as well as the other two juniors on the roster, Mira McCool and Susie Whitsett, welcomes the challenge and plans to make the most of it.

Junior Susie Whitsett (photo by Bret Keim).

Warren expressed that she is “grateful” for her captainship. While this position normally falls to a senior, Warren embraces it. She noted that in the past, she has had leaders that have not lived up to their titles, all of which left a bitter taste in her mouth. 

But Warren plans to do better.  

“I feel like this is my way to be better than that, to be a good person for my team, be a good communicator, a good leader overall,” she said.  “[To] Just serve my team in that way.” 

Head coach Gavin King will be counting on that. 

King is excited to get the season started, more so than in years past. King has a whopping 18 girls, all of which received playing time last season returning back for varsity play, an unprecedented number by anyone’s standards. 

Despite having no seniors, King is thrilled that he has “a lot of experience returning. 

“You will take leadership wherever you can get it,” King said. 

While the team will lean on McCool, Warren, and Whitsett, others are bound to step up.

“We see leadership through the summer, with work ethic at practice and with attitude,” King explained. 

With sights set on making it to Jacksonville State, home of the state playoffs, King believes he has the players, and staff, to make it happen. He cannot brag enough on how hard they have worked, calling his assistants nothing short of “amazing.” 

While his staff is phenomenal, King’s focus is still on his players. “We just have to get better every day on our own, skills, we worked really hard this summer, and eventually that hard work and hours that we put in is going to pay off.” <quote bubble>

Unlike football, basketball is a sport where everyone is given a shot at the playoffs, despite their record. 

At the end of the season area tournament, consisting of every team in each region, the top two teams automatically advance to the playoffs, with a victory in the championship game deciding seeding. Therefore, playing your best basketball late in the season is truly what matters. 

“We just have to get better every day between now and February… and then, whatever happens, happens,” King said.

The Patriots are set to tip off their season at home versus Chelsea on, Nov. 3 at 5:30 p.m.