Gone are four-year starter Brittany Brewer, who is now playing for Texas Tech; last year’s district MVP Makaela Mosley, and five other experienced seniors.
Arriving is a strong sophomore class of six, who bring with them speed and a run-the-court style of play.
“Man are our sophomores fast,” said senior Gabby Zullo. “This year we are focused more on pushing the ball up the court. We are trying to run the court more.”
The team has as many sophomores (six) as it does seniors and juniors (four and two), and the Lady Bulldogs only return five from last year’s varsity squad that advanced to the state semifinals.
“The whole team dynamic is very different,” said Hannah Bennett. “But I like it. We are adjusting.”
With Brittany and Makaela dominating the post, last year’s team focused mostly on getting the ball down low and letting them do their thing. This year, the team is spreading the ball around more.
“It’s not really about replacing them individually,” Gabby said. “We have all come together to replace them as a team.”
“We have multiple good players,” Hannah said. “We don’t have one star. We have a lot of strengths on our team. Each player has something that they bring to the table.”
Jaden Underwood said she thought last year’s team had great chemistry, but this year is even better.
“I realize how much closer we are,” she said. “We all love each other. We are very encouraging to each other.”
That team chemistry helped the team jump out to a 9-4 start, and senior Claire Allen said some tough opponents during that stretch helped the team see how hard it needs to work.
“We had two really bad losses,” she said. “We definitely learned that we need to work a lot harder in practice. Our goal is to just make every game better than the last. Then we can carry that over to district games.”
Last year’s strong class of seniors were great examples for this year’s seniors on how to be team leaders, Gabby said.
“They really helped us to know how to lead the team,” she said. “They were really good. It’s weird because we kind of sat back last year. It’s exciting to know that we are the oldest ones this year.”
Coach Kurt Richardson said the girls are doing a great job of stepping up in those leadership roles.
“It’s different every year,” he said. “We’ve changed our style of play. We are spreading it out a little more. But these girls are doing a great job. They are working hard.”
The girls also benefit from the experience of going to the state tournament last year.
“We want to get back really bad,” Gabby said. “It gave us a taste of what we want. That state tournament is so much fun.”
Claire said the team tries to focus on winning one game at a time and getting better each and every game. But those memories of state inspire them.
“It’s always on our minds,” Claire said. “It has always been a goal. But we know we have to work hard to get there.”
Wylie’s Girls Remaining Schedule
(district games in bold)
Jan. 3 at Frenship 6 p.m.
Jan. 6 at Brownwood 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 10 Big Spring 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 13 at Snyder 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 20 Sweetwater 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 24 Brownwood 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 27 at Big Spring 6:15 p.m.
Jan. 31 Snyder 6:15 p.m.
Feb. 3 Lubbock Titans 6:15 p.m.
Feb. 7 at Sweetwater 6:15 p.m.