White House Heritage girls basketball is finally off the schneid.
After losing their first 10 games of the season, the Lady Patriots got in the win column by defeating Springfield 66-42 on Thursday and Greenbrier 51-41 on Friday.
“We’re playing a lot better. The girls are playing with confidence and they’re having fun,” Heritage coach Clay Head said. “Hopefully we’ll keep getting better and better.”
The slow start wasn’t necessarily a surprise.
Heritage graduated its entire starting lineup after last season. That group – which included Eimy Esparza, Alex Green, Staten Holmes, Kelsey Russell and Sadie Short – led the Lady Patriots a 23-8 record, a District 9-AA runner-up finish and a Region 5-AA semifinal appearance in 2019-20. They also accounted for 90% of the team’s scoring.
The Lady Patriots (2-10) essentially had to start over this season, and it showed in their early results. Heritage lost its first 10 games by an average margin of 26.2 points against tough opponents like Clarksville, Creek Wood, Gallatin, Jo Byrns and Lipscomb Academy.
Their only single-digit loss came against Sycamore (61-56) on Dec. 15. The practices that followed during the three-week pause on games in Robertson County provided a turning point.
“You could tell practices started to get better, we started competing a lot harder and playing the right way,” Head said. “Once we started doing that, we continued to focus on the positives and things turned for us.”
Following a 48-13 loss at Westmoreland on Tuesday, the Lady Patriots delivered their two best performances of the season to down county rivals on back-to-back nights. Senior Bayleigh Ballard scored 32 points and hit nine three-pointers across the two contests to emerge as an offensive threat.
“Everything is finally coming together,” Ballard said. “It has taken a while, but I think we have finally found out how to play defense as a team and offense as a team.”
Along with Ballard, Head said senior point guard Bekah Lamberth has been the “glue” keeping the team together. Lamberth and junior forward Kinsley Caruthers, who averages a team-leading 9.3 points per game, finished with 11 points apiece in the victory over Greenbrier.
COVID-19 issues have forced various Heritage players to miss practices and games at different points in time. But the team was fully healthy this week for the first time since the season started.
“Like everybody else, we’ve had some (issues),” Head said. “We had a game where we had three starters out. We’ve had some (players) missing almost every game. But it hasn’t destroyed us. We’ve been able to play games unlike some teams, so we’re grateful for that.”
Heritage has another busy week upcoming. The Lady Patriots host district-leading Westmoreland (9-3) on Tuesday and travel to White House (6-5) on Thursday.
Ballard and Head agreed that the team must keep having inspired practices to continue their newly found winning ways.
“I think we need to keep up our high intensity in practice,” Ballard said. “That’s been helpful. At the beginning of the season, it wasn’t there at all. But I think if we keep our mindset right, we’ll keep going in the right direction.”
FRIDAY’S BOX SCORE
Greenbrier (41): Emma Disney 13, Ella Disney 7, Makenlee Jones 7, Laura Walker 6, Halle Barnes 5, Abby Stacey 2, Ashley Marshall 1.
WH Heritage (51): Bayleigh Ballard 16, Kinsley Caruthers 11, Bekah Lamberth 11, Nikki Morrell 5, Emily Clifford 4, Claire King 2, Armonie Tolliver 2.