The Lady Bears haven’t missed a beat so far in the 2012-13 season with wins in their first four games.
“We had a pretty good season last season, going 22-8 and making it to the state playoffs,” Holy Innocents’ coach Tony Watkins said. “We didn’t graduate anybody from last year and we have some good young kids coming in, so we have a pretty good team coming in this year.”
Holy Innocents’ has maintained its level of excellence since Watkins took over the reins in 2008, going 22-7 in ’08-09, 24-4 in ’09-10 and 20-9 in ’10-11 to go along with its 22-8 mark of a year ago. The Bears have made it to the state playoffs each year, losing in the first round in all of their appearances during that time.
“We have had some solid players over the last few years and that has helped us in the win column,” Watkins said. “We’ve gotten great support from the parents and our athletic department has been very supportive as well, but it comes down to the players.”
The Lady Bears have picked up where they left so far, beating crosstown rival Riverwood 60-45 in their season opener Nov. 13, St. Francis 63-57 Nov. 16, Landmark Christian 52-8 in their first Region 5A game of the season Nov. 20 and Providence Christian 52-17 last Tuesday.
A big factor in Holy Innocents’ success is its depth, with 15 players on its roster.
“Our depth is our strength,” Watkins said. “This is the deepest team we have had. We never have had this luxury before.”
It is that depth has resulted in a more balanced effort for the Bears, who have gotten important contributions from everyone on their roster.
“That is kind of new for us,” said Watkins of his team’s balance. “My second year, we were able to play eight kids half of the game. This year, we play nine to 10 kids. In our last game [against Providence Christian], we played 12 kids. We have six kids averaging at least six points a game.”
Senior forward Reshaundra Owens and senior guard McKenzie Bolden return to lead the way once again for Holy Innocents’.
Owens averaged 10 points a game through the Lady Bears’ first four games, including a 19-point, eight-rebound effort in the win over St. Francis. Bolden — who recently signed with the University of California at San Diego for basketball — had 5.3 points per contest.
Holy Innocents’ has also gotten a strong contribution from freshman center Erika Cassell, who was leading the team in scoring through the first four games with 12.3 points per game and led the Bears with 19 points and 18 rebounds in the St. Francis contest.
Cassell is among the five freshmen who have stepped in to make contributions, along with guards Sydney Long (7.5 ppg), Chelsea Zoller (5.8 ppg) and Aaliyah Milford and forward Emma Rolader.
Junior forward Lexii Cassell (7.8 ppg), junior guards Mary Hollis Schmidt, Ciel Rodriguez and Mary Catherine Thomson, sophomore Rachel Morton and senior center Mary Wade Ballou have also played key roles.