MORGANTOWN — Last year, Trinity Christian School girls’ basketball team was all about a strong start. This time around, the Warriors are looking for a stronger finish.
“Last year we had a lot of focus on getting to Charleston, and we got there and we got complacent, “ Trinity head coach Mike Baldy said. “This year, our team theme is finish. Finishing sprints, finishing drills and finishing games.
“Last year we were down there for the scene. We wanted to walk on the court, and stay at a hotel and things like that. This year, we want to go down there and win a state championship. We want to finish things out.”
The Warriors opened last season with a record of 6-1 before faltering — finishing the regular season 10-12. They regained their strength in the postseason, however, mounting a four-game win streak to earn a spot in the Class A state tournament — where they bowed out to the eventual champion Wheeling Central Catholic in the first round.
“We had a team that we thought was worthy of going to Charleston last year, but at a time midseason it looked like it was never going to happen,” he said. “That’s because we got ahead of ourselves — we tried to do it all at once.”
“We kind of lost our identity of who we were as a team,” Trinity senior Rachel Rosen said. “This year, we’re really trying to focus on that identity and keeping our energy together.”
Baldy wants to ensure that his team doesn’t fall from grace once again. He wants to make sure it finishes what it starts. That mentality has carried over to every aspect of the game.
“Finishing is part of our main theme because we think that it’s important that no matter what we’re doing, whether it’s a drill, a layup or a game in general, we finish strong and give it our all,” Rosen said.
One weapon Baldy believes his team will have this year is depth. The Warriors return four starters, including all-state selections Rosen and Regan Sharp, and gained Morgantown transfers Paige Dixon and Leighton Croft to help contribute in the backcourt. They also lost only one senior from last year’s team in Emily Saurborn.
With all the experience returning, Baldy expects a team that can go nine or ten players deep at all times — which isn’t exactly common for many of Trinity’s foes.
“I think the thing you’re going to see this year is a well-rounded group. That’s something I’m happy with,” he said. “Last year we had Jaclyn Smith coming off the bench, but she was the only bench player who was contributing.
Now, we have ten basketball players in the gym that can play minutes, and not a lot of Class A schools have that.”
The deeper bench and returning experience should create a strong team bond open up play-calling on both ends of the court, giving Trinity a bit more of an edge than it had last season.
“At this point in our careers, we’ve played together long enough to build a strong team chemistry, which should benefit us well this season,” Sharp said. “The overall improved skill level should make a huge difference on the floor, and with more depth, we have a lot more options in the playbook.”
For Rosen, it’s been quite the shock to see the progression in the team from when she entered the program up to this season. Now, she knows regardless of which combination of players are on the floor, the team is likely still in safe hands.
“The difference in our skill from my freshman year to now is unbelievable. There is not a girl on our team that I wouldn’t trust out on the court to take care of the ball and contribute to the team,” she said. “I’m super excited for this year and all the skill we have. I really think we can make it far if we use all of our skill.”