OVILLA – It would be very easy for Mike Welch to hang his head when he talks about Ovilla Christian’s girls basketball season last year. When you win seven games, there isn’t much to talk about.
But without those struggles, who knows if the Lady Eagles have anything close to the season they had this year.
“We had a rough start last year but as the district went on I saw some improvement with the team and it gave me some great hope if you will for this season,” Welch said. “They really turned it around, they really did.”
The Lady Eagles were forced to battle it all last season – injury, tough teams, ineligibility – and it all led to a season to forget.
Seven wins left the team wanting more. When the 2010-11 season started, they turned those desires into reality.
Ovilla Christian rebounded from that disappointment to win 20 games this year and did so well the team got a chance to host a playoff game against McKinney Christian.
The season ended in a tough loss at home but it did not dampen how the players look back on the year.
“We’ve come a long ways,” Tapps District 3-3A MVP Jessica Sodich says with a smile. “(It was) teamwork really. We just started using every person on our team. Everyone started stepping up and it made a huge difference obviously.”
What the Lady Eagles did along the way was place six players to the first- and second-team all-district lists with another making honorable mention.
Along the way, Sodich passed Lesley Dennis as the school’s all-time leading scorer en route to claiming the district MVP.
All the personal accolades were a byproduct of what the team was able to accomplish, according to Welch. The change did not happen overnight but once it did there was no stopping it.
“At the end of last season we started playing a little bit better and I knew we had a core group of girls that were coming back, they matured a little bit, got a little bit better in the game of basketball, started working better together as a team and it just carried on into the season,” Welch said.
“We just really had some successes early on that we didn’t have last year which I think helped contribute going into district play. I think that’s what really made us more successful was just having that early on type of experience of winning games versus losing or playing close games.”
With the success there is some good and some bad. Sodich and two other all-district players from this year’s team will graduate, leaving some big holes to fill. The good news is two of those all-district players will be senior leaders next season while another will be just a junior with two more years left to play out.
Welch knows the biggest area the team will need to address is scoring. He’s hoping this season’s lessons will not be lost on those he hopes will step up to the challenge.
“We do have a group coming back that I think will be able to take up some of that scoring and they will be looked to more as an opportunity to score than this year. I’m, with anticipation, hoping for more maturity in some of our underclassmen,” Welch said.
For Sodich, her high school career may be over but she hopes her legacy lives on in the form of leadership.
After working with some of the younger players to help them mature, she believes it’s now their turn to return the favor.
Is the program in good hands? She seems to think so.
“I feel pretty good (about it),” Sodich said. “We’ve come a long way.”
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