The Sherman Lady Bearcats have had an up-and-down start to the season, entering Friday’s District 5-5A opener against Wichita Falls Rider with a 4-11 record.

Second-year coach David Upton said a lack of consistency as the Lady Cats try to adapt to a different style of play has been the biggest obstacle during the early portion of the schedule.

“It’s kind of hit and miss,” Upton said. “There are games where we show signs that we can play pretty well, and then there’s games we don’t. We look like a team that’s never picked up a ball sometimes.

“That’s kind of been the struggle, just being consistent, just finding some consistency.”

Much of the problem can be attributed to Sherman’s lack of varsity experience. The Lady Cats have just three returning lettermen from last year with two seniors on a junior-laden roster.

“I think just learning what it takes to win is important,” Upton said. “It’s hard sometimes to get kids to understand the sacrifices you have to make. “Everybody wants to win. They say they want to win. But do you know what it takes to win?”

Junior guard Jaylen Edmonson leads the team with 14.3 points per game, shooting 42 percent overall and 31 percent from 3-point range. Edmonson also averages 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

Junior guard Libby Ticknor adds nine points per game, shooting 45 percent from the field. She leads the team at 37 percent from beyond the arc.

“I think our roles have kind of developed and our kids understand what roles they kind of fit,” Upton said. “We have some other kids who are filling their roles and understanding that ‘I’m a defensive player,’ or ‘I need to go rebound’ and those kinds of things. They’re starting to figure out their roles and that’s been important for us.”

Senior forward Alaura Andrews is the leading rebounder at 5.5 per game, while junior guard Kursten Alexander joins Edmonson and Ticknor in averaging two steals per game.

After Friday’s game, Sherman plays road games at Denton and Denton Braswell next week. That will be followed by a no-district game against Gainesville on Dec. 19 and McKinney North’s Lady Bulldog Holiday Classic Dec. 28-30 before resuming district play on Jan. 2.

Upton said he’s looking for the Lady Cats to make significant strides over the rest of the month before hitting the bulk of the district schedule in the new year.

“In these three district games, No. 1, I’m hoping to get three wins,” he said. “With that, we’re just hoping to see improvement. Every game, that’s all I’m looking for. Are we getting better or are we regressing?

“As long as we’re getting better, I’m OK. It’s those moments where I think we take a step backwards that upset me.”

Upton said Sherman needs to put a more complete performance together, having shown flashes of solid play so far.

“There are nights where we’re really good in one phase, but the problem is basketball has four phases,” he said. “It has an offensive side, a defensive side, offensive transition and defensive transition. Sometimes we do one or two of those phases really well, but we don’t do all four.

“To be a really good, quality team, you need to be on point in at least three of those four phases every night. If we can get to that point, where we’re really good at three of those phases every night going into the Christmas tournament, I’ll be happy.”

If the Lady Cats can do so, Upton said, they should be in the thick of the district race.

“I think Denison’s probably No. 1,” he said. “I think everybody’s chasing Denison. I think Denison has the horses to probably win it this year. Probably after Denison, Rider’s right there. I know they’ve got a new coach, but they had quite a bit of talent last year. If the new coach can get them going, if you’re looking strictly at talent, they’re No. 2.

“Then I think it’s up for grabs. I think the rest of us are fighting for that third and fourth spot. Braswell has a new coach, but they were talented. They were like us, small and very fast, and all they had were sophomores last year. They should be pretty good this year.

“Denton’s got size. I think they’ve got more than any of us. Then Denton Ryan is just a storied program. In athletics, they’re usually pretty good in everything they do. I anticipate them being down a little bit because they had a couple of kids last year who signed to play in college.”