Last year was special for Navarre’s girls basketball team.
The Raiders turned their fortunes around under first-year head coach Jackie Coyne, winning a district championship and punching a ticket to the regional tournament.
But with seven seniors lost to graduation, Navarre is expected to be a much different team this year. Only two seniors are on the roster and experience is minimal for the majority of the players.
That doesn’t mean Coyne isn’t excited about the year ahead.
“It’s been a challenge but it’s also exciting,” Coyne said. “We’re working a lot on the fundamentals and skill work. We may take lumps at the beginning, but in the end, we are going to rise.”
Navarre won 17 games last year after earning just two wins the year before. Seniors Ty Stringfield and Skye Buckner are the lone seniors and the only two who played on varsity last season.
Coyne is counting on those both to play a big role in paving the way for success.
“I’m really challenging them because I need them to be my leaders,” Coyne said. “This is their senior year. This is it. They have to lead the way.”
Both players know what it was like to succeed a year ago and are driven by what they accomplished last season. But that same motivation hasn’t trickled down to the younger players.
“I thought (our success last year) would help more. I thought the girls would be hungrier to be part of a successful program, but most of the girls weren’t in the mix, so it’s not immediate to them,” Coyne said. “I keep telling them, though, that we have a target on our back because of what we did last year. I do think we can compete. We have the pieces. We just have to have them fall into place.”
Practices have been intense for the Raiders, who started play this week with a preseason tournament at Central. They have done a great deal of running and have put a lot of emphasis on drills that improve their defensive skills and their footwork.
Read more in the Nov. 10 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.