STERLING – It was a fairly young group leading the way for the Sterling girls basketball team last season, and nowhere was that more evident than handing the keys to the offense over to a freshman.
Grace Gould won the starting job at point guard in ninth grade.
“I had to look up to the older girls and they taught me a lot,” Gould said. “When it all came down to it, I had a lot of experience with basketball, so I just had to stay calm and stick to what I knew.”
She had to do a lot of growing up, and quickly, with the offense running through her.
“I learned that staying calm helped a lot in a lot of different situations,” Gould said. “There’s a lot of games where it came down to the fourth quarter and a lot of times we couldn’t stay calm and finish it. That’s what hurt us a lot last year.”
Gould averaged 1.4 assists per game last year on the offensive end, and 2.0 steals per game on the defensive end.
“She’s going to continue that and she’s going to keep growing as a point guard and as a player,” junior shooting guard Josi Borum said. “She really helps us a lot.”
Borum could be one of the players Gould is looking for on offense this year. Borum averaged 7.8 points per game last season, second only to now-graduated Cheyenne Harrington’s 8.7 points per game.
A fairly young team last year, the Warriors bring a lot of that lineup back. Sophomore Grace Gould is joined by juniors Borum, Genea Garza and Gretchen Gould and senior Gabbi Schilling, all of whom played major roles for Sterling last year.
The team did take its lumps last year on the way to a 6-25 record, but coach Taylor Jackson did start to see signs pointing to a turn-around as the season wore on and the lineup gained experience.
“As we ended last season, we were seeing some things that were positive, we just weren’t able to finish many games,” Jackson said. “Throughout the summer, we spent a lot of time in the gym, and I think that mindset is starting to change here. The girls are buying in a little more and I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
Gould said that this year’s team is more cohesive, playing better as a whole. Jackson said that this is a more confident group now, as the players got more used to each other and grew to trust each other.
“This summer, I think we definitely turned it up,” Schilling said. “That was something we had against us, and we’re kind of looking for redemption, like a chip on our shoulder. This summer, we turned it up and we’re just ready for the season.”
Schilling and Gretchen Gould will be the key players in the low post, but both can spread their games out to the wings.
“We’re a very athletic group this year,” Schilling said. “I think low post can play wings. I think some wings can play post. We’re going to mix it up this year.”
Schilling said that with the athleticism on the team, they should be able to turn things around on defense, getting back to stop transition chances.
Last year, Sterling struggled on the defensive end at times, allowing 71 points in a loss to Hononegah, 69 in a loss to LaSalle-Peru and 72 in a loss to Yorkville.
“We need to play better defense than last year,” Borum said. “We stand up a lot. This year we need to be more ready and get more steals.”