Lady Jackets seek team improvement
The North Augusta girls basketball team watched a region foe win state last season. The Jackets saw Aiken and Dutch Fork stand as two of the final four teams in the state, and now, they are ready to make their move to that level.
“This year, we’ve gotten better,” Crystal Cummings, North Augusta’s head coach, said. “We’ve got more experience, our young players from last year have improved. We’re trying to be a more all-around team, instead of the perimeter team we were last year.”
Cummings attributes the improvement of her squad to an emphasis on fundamentals in the preseason and over the summer.
“In the preseason, I feel like everything starts with me,” she said. “I was more focused on what I wanted them to do, and we’ve pushed them hard to get better in the weight room and with our fundamental skills. Now, we’re seeing it come together in the preseason and, hopefully, we see it in the regular season.”
The returning players for the Jackets, who made it to the second round of the playoffs last season, are hoping to go even further this year. North Augusta returns its leading scorer, Mallory Stone, who is being recruited by lower-level Division I schools.
“This year, I’m looking to be more of a leader on the floor,” Stone said. “I want to score more, take more shots and get my teammates more active.”
Cummings said Stone was more of a “slasher” last season.
“Mallory, she’s going to be herself out there,” she said. “But, she’s been working hard on her jump shot. Last year she was more of a slasher and cutter. I look for her to be a more all around player.”
Of the other returning players, Cummings pointed out that Cydney Matthews and Kelly Cooper are two that have stepped up to be major contributors for the Jackets.
“Cydney and Kelly have stepped up big for us,” Cummings said. “Ja’Lyn Sanders is another who has been good in the preseason. Cydney had 17 points and nine rebounds for us in a scrimmage not too long ago. I’m hoping all three of them can keep that up for the season.
Cummings and Stone are hoping to finish the season with a region championship.
“The goal is to be No. 1 in the region,” Cummings said.
“Winning the region is our main goal right now,” Stone said. “We want to win the region and make a run in the playoffs.”
North Augusta will its season on the road at Evans on Dec. 3. The Jackets will play at home against Greenbrier on Dec. 7.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.