SPRINGFIELD — It’s a new season and a new era for the Effingham County girls basketball team.
Under first-year head coach Patrick McClure, the Lady Rebels are changing their style of play.
“I think, right now, they are trying to learn a new program and a new way of doing things,” McClure said. “They don’t really have space left to focus on anything else because everything I have thrown at them is pretty new, so right now it’s all about us learning what we are trying to do, our system and how we want to play. Once we get that down, I think they will be ready.
“I think we are going to try to play aggressive. I think that will help them focus more about what we do and not about what everyone else does. But I think they will be ready and excited to go.”
McClure believes his seniors have enough minutes under their belt to orchestrate a new offense.
“Catherine Hall is probably going to be at point guard and I’m looking for her to do big things,” McClure said. “De’ja House and Jordan Wallace — all those girls are my three seniors. They’ve played varsity before, so they have good experience.”
Effingham County finished 7-19 a year ago but the school boasts great pride in a winning tradition. The Lady Rebels were a Final Four team during the 2012-2013 campaign and are used to 20-win seasons.
This year, however, is about competing at a high level and bringing passion and drive back to the game. And their new path will start at practice where McClure expects everyone to bring their A-game.
“(I am) trying to get them to be more confident, and at practice, be more competitive,” McClure said. “They are all friends but, in practice, they need to compete with each other more to have more intense practices. We are going to play faster than they did last year. But they are doing well and we are trying to get better every day.”
The Lady Rebels have a tough schedule, including teams such as Ridgeland-Hardeeville, which has been a powerhouse in the Palmetto State for years. McClure wanted to have a schedule that will test his players skills and help them develop the fortitude they need to get through a long season.
“I definitely want them to have the feeling that every time they step on the floor, they have a chance to win,” McClure said. “(I want them to) just focus on playing hard, doing what we do and not getting caught up in the future or the past because that’s where the pressure gets added. Just focus on their job of what they need to do in the moment of every game and definitely hit the floor with the confidence that we can beat anybody as long as we do our job.”
Along with restoring the pride and tradition, McClure wants to instill a strong work ethic that will be beneficial long after his players no longer play.
“I always think every season I go into I want my players to be better people, work hard, learn how to be part of a team and just grow,” he said. “If they can learn some good qualities that will help them in life in the future as well as build friendships and a bond that will last, I think that’s the main part of high school sports. It would great to win a championship and, if it does happen, that’s awesome but that’s not my main focus.”