The last couple of seasons, the Meadow Bridge girls basketball team has taken it lumps along the way.
Times have been trying as a result of youth and inexperience.
Veteran head coach Steve Taylor, now in his 29th year at the school, thinks the tide may be turning for his team.
“Two years ago in the Covid year, we started five freshman. Last year it was the same kids and we still have no seniors,” Taylor said, laughing. “We are getting better, growing up a little bit and we are having fun. We are older now and a little more mature, so we are expecting to win some games with all the girls we have back.”
The Wildcats are really solid on the perimeter led by junior standout Charity Reichard who is a three-year starter at point guard.
“Charity has a lot of experience and is a really good player. She is a hard worker and she put in a really good summer. She will be the quarterback on the floor,” Taylor said.
One of Reichard’s main targets last year was sophomore Keirsten Rozelle who has already proven herself to be a prolific scorer.
“That is a player that you may want to keep an eye on. Her brother played at WVU Tech,” Taylor said. “She had 300 points as a freshman last year and she will play the forward spot. Keirsten is a smart, athletic player that is a really good shooter. She has a really bright future.”
Flanking Reichard up top will be fellow-junior Sierra Simmons and sophomore Riley Roberts.
“Sierra had a really good summer also and she shoots the ball really well,” Taylor said. “Riley is a real hard-nosed player. She will be a first year starter, but she got good minutes off the bench last year. I think the experience on the perimeter will definitely be a strength for us. We like to run up and down the floor and shoot the ball.”
Sophomore Kaitlin Cooper will man the post and is a player that Taylor says has really improved. She will be bolstered by Abigail Cooper and Jordan Butcher.
Taylor is looking for a big effort from his post players this year.
“We are concentrating on rebounding. Our rebounding has to get better,” Taylor said,
Emma Hatcher will add more depth coming off the bench along with with freshmen Lillian Hayes, Jordan Butcher and Kierra Hanshew.
“They should all get some good playing time. We love playing nine or 10 kids and we have 15 kids out this year,” Taylor said. “We have a good JV schedule lined up as well.”
Excitement has been high on the campus at Meadow Bridge for several reasons. Taylor, who is seven victories shy of his 300th career win, hopes a successful season on the court will be a big part of that excitement.
“It is an exciting time with everybody coming back. We also have the new school and the new gymnasium,” Taylor said. “We aren’t in it just yet, but we hope to be practices inside the new gym by mid-December. We have had to adjust our schedules some, but we are all pulling together to get through this.”
Improving on an 8-12 season last year is the first goal for the Wildcats, but the postseason is always on their minds.
“We realize that Greenbrier West and Webster County have been better, but we feel like we are closing the gap some,” Taylor said. “We are a work in progress, but we are going to stay the course.”
Meadow Bridge opens the season Dec. 1 when it hosts Bath (Va.) and will host Covington (Va.) Dec. 5.
Both of those games will be played at Rainelle Christian Academy.