When the season did not go how the Lady Bearcats wanted, they were going to find a way to improve as well as avoid the mistakes that saw them near the bottom of the district standings.
Injuries are something that can’t be planned for but Sherman felt it could still be competitive despite missing its best player.
The possibility of overachieving never materialized, however, and the rebuilding process has carried over as the Lady Bearcats open the season at Frisco Independence at 6 p.m. on Friday and then host Richardson Pearce at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
There will be newcomers, particularly from a strong freshman class, asked to contribute right away while some familiar faces will be given more responsibility with varsity experience under their belts. Building for the future may show some quick dividends but there is plenty of work to be done.
“We’ve got a good young group — not just with the varsity but in the whole program. We’ve got the most kids out than we’ve ever had,” Sherman head coach David Upton said. “We’re trying to build that chemistry. The atmosphere on the bench has been much better. The chemistry with the young kids has been really good.”
Of course, setbacks can come from unforeseen areas. Just as last season was beginning, Sherman suffered its biggest loss. Jaylen Edmonson, an all-district selection and the team’s leading scorer, was injured in the first game and missed her entire senior season. The domino effect to the roles on the roster were felt through the rest of the year and the Lady Bearcats went 7-25 overall and finished last in the District 10-5A standings with an 0-10 record.
It was the fifth straight year Sherman had a losing record and missed the playoffs.
“It had an up-and-down roller coaster feel. They know what it’s like to be down. They know what it’s like to regroup,” Upton said. “Because of the situation, we had kids step up and play in roles they weren’t accustomed to. Now they’re back and ready to contribute in a role they are better suited for.
While half of the roster returns, Sherman did lose Kursten Alexander, Libby Ticknor and Madison Kehrer in the backcourt and Scotti Lyons and Alexis Deere in frontcourt due to graduation.
“Because we’re so young and Libby and Kursten are gone, we don’t know where the point production is going to come from,” Upton said. “We’re going to have to share that. We want to spread the ball around.”
The core of the rebuilding process will center around senior guards Olivia Bindel and Jadyne Gatewood and junior Sa’Nyah Hunter and forwards Amiah Dehorney, a senior, and junior Abby Khader.
Bindel, who could see a lot of minutes at a forward spot based on the group on the floor, has been on the varsity since she was a freshman and Gatewood emerged last season with increased playing time.
“They will probably be two of our key players,” Upton said.
As the Lady Bearcats round out the starting lineup, three freshmen — Destiny Briscoe, Andre’sha Luper and Jayla Jones are in the mix to earn those spots.
“They’re good,” Upton said. “How they handle those minutes might change what our starting lineup might look like going forward.”
Rounding out the roster is junior Jastic Eleby and sophomores Ally Baker and Lilly Ball.
In addition to competing in the Frisco ISD Dallas Mavericks Fall Classic, the Granbury Tournament and the Anna-Melissa-Van Alstyne Highway 5 Tournament, the Lady Bearcats have non-district contests against Richardson Pearce, Little Elm, Anna, Frisco Wakeland, Royse City, Gunter, North Lamar, Celina and Sulphur Springs.
Sherman will open 10-5A action by hosting Princeton on Jan. 10 and attempt to reach the playoffs. The four teams that made it last season were defending district champ Wylie East, Denison, McKinney North and Lovejoy.
“We put some teams on there that are going to challenge us. I want that challenge,” Upton said. “And there are some games where I think we can pick up some wins and the girls can gain some confidence.”