New faces to lead basketball teams | Sports

Four girls’ basketball programs will be led by freshman head coaches this season, and Iowa Colony is the new program that has created a district shift for local 4A schools.

The longest serving coaches are Robert Robinson of Angleton and Aaliyah Ward of Columbia, each at their respective schools for three years.

Brazoswood brings its experience with 36-year-old coach Steve Hale. Danbury has hired eighth-grade coach Andrew Hubbell, a former Hitchcock head coach, to lead its program, and longtime former Dickinson coach Naroda Knox will take over a Sweeny program fresh out of a district championship.

Longtime Freeport women’s basketball coach LaShaye Thompson will lead the Lady Exporters in her first season in charge of a program. Brandi Justice, another seasoned coach, brings her experience to the new Iowa Colony program.

COACH: Steve Hale (36th season, first with Brazoswood)

LAST YEAR: District 24-6A, 0-12; 10-23 overall.

GRADUATES: Macy Leger, Lynette Salinas, Kaylee Muskwinsky, Haley Williamson, Dyanka Torres, Sarenity Soliz, Elizabeth Harpham

RETURNED LETTERS: Regan Blank, Mariah Rodriquez, Aaliyah Rollerson

OVERVIEW: This year’s team is a group of hard-working women, Hale said. The Lady Bucs are young, graduating seven seniors a year ago, but eager to learn and make a difference. While Brazoswood may have some shortcomings, the team hopes to make up for those in effort and teamwork, Hale said.

Blank is the prototype of the senior leader. She sets the tone for this team and leads by example as well as vocally, Hale said. She’s super physical on the block and the boards and brings great energy to both ends of the floor, he said.

Rollerson is Lady Bucs’ returning point guard who runs the show, Hale said.

“She has a great drive which makes her a great defender on the court, but I’ve never seen her back down from anyone,” he said. “What she lacks in physical size, she makes up for in heart.”

Hale expects rookie Peytyn Harley to play a big role with her massive upside. She has already performed well to start the season.

“She’s super athletic with great speed,” Hale said. “When her skills catch up with her athleticism, she could be the next big thing.”

The team is 0-3 to start the season, but Blank has been a consistent leader and Harley has shown promise.

QUOTE: “Every day is an opportunity to make changes,” said Hale. “We believe this only happens when everyone accepts their role and does their job. Playing hard and trusting the process, coaches and their teammates are an absolute must if we expect to see a turnaround.

COACH: Robert Robinson (third season)

LAST YEAR’S FILES: District 24-5A, 9-7; 17-12 overall. Lost in Region 3 around Manvel, 52-34.

PREVIEW: The Ladycats (1-2) picked up their first win of the season Thursday against Industrial.

COACH: LaShaye Thompson (first season)

LAST YEAR’S FILES: District 25-4A, 2-10; 4-19 overall.

GRADUATES: Taris Bonner, Knavia Goins and Tyanna Nichols.

Return letters: Deja El-Amin and Torrijah Goins.

OVERVIEW: Thompson is elevated to head coaching after serving as an assistant for Brazosport since 2018 and coaching from 2009 to 2015 at Freeport Intermediate. She will court a young but athletic and quick team in her first season as head coach.

“We’re looking forward to competing and we’ll bring it all to the field every night,” she said. “Every member of the team believes the team will be successful and wants to show their export pride.”

Brazosport opened the season 0-2.

QUOTE: Torrijah Goins brings leadership to our team; she is our coach on the pitch. Deja El-Amin, Diamond Lewis and Amaya Waddy all have a love for the game,” Thompson said. “The trio bring great energy and will lead the floor.”

COACH: Aaliyah Ward (third season)

LAST YEAR RECORDS: District 25-4A, 7-5, 16-15 overall. Lost 64-29 to Rockport-Fulton in the Region IV bidistrict round.

GRADUATES: Keirstyn Lewis and Yuleni Angeles

RETURNED LETTERS: Natalie Sharp, Alexia Lewis, Katie Arnold, Hayley Broussard, Brynlee Livingston and Londyn Brown.

PREVIEW: The Lady Necks return with plenty of talent from last season’s playoff team. Columbia has already started the season 5-1.

COACH: Andrew Hubbell (eighth season, first with Danbury)

LAST YEAR’S FILES: District 24-3A, 3-9; overall N/A

Return letters: Sadie Meeks, Brynlee Auer, Makenzie Nicholson, Savana Henken.

OVERVIEW: Hubbell arrives at Danbury after three seasons at Hitchcock and the last four at East Chambers.

The Lady Panthers are still awaiting a full squad after the volleyball program’s season ended last week in the regional tournament. Players including Meeks and Auer will join the basketball team.

“Our volleyball group had a fantastic season this year and was immediately thrown into the fire with us,” Hubbell said. “We hope to build on this success and continue it throughout the basketball and volleyball season. This group has had a lot to take in over the past few days, and I am very impressed with how they work hard to understand a new system and their roles in it.

QUOTE: “We’re going to try to play fast and let our defense feed our offense,” Hubbell said. “That being said, we’ll use a lot of bodies and try to keep them as fresh as possible. We’re returning Sadie Meeks, all-district position, who has a great feel for the game and touch around the rim.

“Brynlee Auer is a volleyball player who just came to basketball and does a great job handling the ball and getting us organized. Savana Henken is someone who I think can be a great knockdown shooter when all is said and done; her exit is perfect, and she is confident in it.

COACH: Brandi Justice (eighth season, Iowa Colony premiere)

LAST YEAR RECORDS: 0-0

RETURN LETTERS: None

OVERVIEW: Iowa Colony opened in August 2022 with only freshmen and sophomores and will look to use speed and defense to win games this season. The Lady Pioneers open their inaugural season in District 26-4A. The Texas Association of Basketball Coaches District picked Iowa Colony to finish fourth in the district, Justice said.

Quote: “Compared to the teams in our region, we are small and lack experience. However, expect us to make some noise this year in 4A,” Justice said. “Our theme this year is complete. I told our daughters and our parents that we can’t make excuses this year – win or lose; we have to compete. We’re getting better with every game and it’s amazing to see our growth in just a few months of playing together.

COACH: Naroda Knox (16th season, first with Sweeny)

LAST YEAR RECORDS: District 25-4A, 12-0; 28-4 overall. Defeated Corpus Christi Miller, 59-55, in the Region IV bidistrict round. Lost in the area around Boerne, 74-28.

GRADUATES: Karissa Philips, Ashley Dailey and Asha Strauther.

RETURNED LETTERS: Kay’ana Britton, Shania Woodard, Alyssa Fitts, Ma’rya Turner, Shaylee Robinson and Alecia King.

OVERVIEW: Knox brings experience to Sweeny, from his days at the helm of 6A Dickinson. She woos a young but athletic team that can get up and down the floor. The six Revenants will play different roles this season, and it will take some time for it all to come together, Knox said.

“Shaylee Robinson and Alyssa Fitts will be our team captains and anchors for the team,” Knox said.

QUOTE: “The girls are excited about the season and the possibilities for direction in the program,” Knox said.