The Walnut Grove High School varsity girls basketball team is going through the expected learning curve to this point in the 2020-2021 season.
The Lady Warriors are being guided by first-year head coach Shelli Downing, who says it has been an adjustment for her as well.
“It has been like going from teaching kindergarten to teaching seniors,” the former Youth Middle School assistant said. “It has really been just a matter of assessing the talent level of the girls. Last year Walnut Grove did not have a JV team and I insisted we add that. We only have 15 girls and we have some overlap on JV and varsity. We have had to make the decision to move some up and some down depending on who we are playing.”
The new coach installed a pressure defense noting the team presses the entire team or at least until a lead is obtained.
“We only have three seniors and three juniors so we are pretty young,” Downing said. “We have a total of nine freshmen and sophomores, three whom have never stepped on the court. To say it is a rebuilding year is an understatement.”
WGHS did gain some experience after a scrimmage victory against Hampton. After a loss to a ranked Cass High School team, the Lady Warriors fell to Landmark Christian by 11 points but bounced back to defeat Providence Christian by 12.
A 4-point loss to Shiloh was a game which could have gone either way, Downing said.
“It was good to see how we stacked up against the non-region teams we played,” the coach said.
Walnut Grove defeated Social Circle in overtime and also earned a region win against Jackson County.
Chassidy King has been the team’s leading scorer.
“When she’s on, it really helps our chances,” her coach said.
Kizzy Harris has also been a key player and Bella Delullo is the team’s leading rebounder. Sophomore Yevette Johnson-McCloud, who has played both JV and varsity, continues to improve with additional court experience.
Downing said assistant coaches Scott Hopkins and Dominque Rowe have been vital parts of the transition process.
As the region schedule unfolds, Downing said Loganville High School is the team to beat.
“Apalachee should also be good and Greenbrier and Johnson will be challenges,” Downing said. “Each year the teams can change. A team can go from No. 8 one year to No. 3 the next. Clearly though Loganville is the team to watch. They are very talented and very physical.”
Like most programs, the Lady Warriors have also had to contend with opponent known as COVID-19 as the program was halted for a week.