Any worry about a senior-laden group going through the motions before the season went out the window two weeks ago. Once District 6-AAA coaches voted the Lady Pioneers to finish last, the fuse was lit.
Coach Shea Panter’s squad is ready to explode on the scene.
The Warren County High School girls team has enjoyed two weeks of intense practice. Coach Panter has been able to capitalize on the continuity of six seniors to hit the ground running, something that should put the Lady Pioneers ahead of the curve when games start next week.
“I think things are going great. We are to a point this year with so much experience that we can really work on fine tuning things and working on the little things,” said Panter. “They are playing together and really getting after it.”
Warren County finished fourth last year in both the regular season and tournament, earning a berth to the region tournament for the second time in four years under Panter. Six of the team’s top seven players return this winter, but coaches and media still view the Lady Pioneers as underdogs.
The team relishes the chance to turn heads.
“Our goal is to prove everyone wrong about picking us last,” said senior forward Grace Rains. “Practice is going well. We’re getting shots up and getting ready.”
Megan Patch echoed her classmate’s thoughts.
“We want to prove people wrong. Practice is going great. We are working hard,” said Patch.
The lone setback thus far is losing senior guard Emily Mikkola to an ankle sprain. Mikkola had barely made her way back from offseason hand surgery before rolling her ankle in practice, but she may be available by game time next week.
Her injuries have hardened Mikkola’s resolve, something she feels the team will need this year to be successful.
“Our goal is to keep working hard. It’s going to take all of us to get through rough patches,” said Mikkola. “Practice is going well. I think we’re all ready to relay it to games and see how it goes.”
The Lady Pioneers will get their first test Saturday in the Riverdale Playday. Warren County is set to take on Summit at 11 a.m. and Portland at 1 p.m. The JV team will face Beech at 9 a.m. and Riverdale at 2 p.m.
The Lady Pioneers begin play Tuesday, Nov. 13 in the Smith County Hall of Fame games.