Playoff Bound!


Courtesy of Lake Ridge Lady's Basketball

The Lady Eagles have made it to the playoffs for the first time in 5 years.

Lake Ridge’s girls basketball team has made the playoffs for the first time in six years. As they have worked diligently throughout the season, they not only performed at impressive levels, but created an unbreakable family bond. According to head coach, Stephani Gray, the most important elements to their team and the success that they have encountered, are the memories they are making and the relationships they will carry for the rest of their lives.

“It’s not always about the scoreboard, It’s about creating memories you can take with you for the rest of your life. It’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s about knowing you gave everything you had. Those are all the qualities of a successful team,” said Gray.

In order to work together as a team, the girls have to do more than just pass the ball. Through weekly team lessons, and constructive coaching, the team has built a way of playing that works for them. Not only do they practice drills to improve their playing on the court, but they nurture their connection with one another off the court, in order to ensure chemistry during the game.  Junior, Elizabeth Abiara elaborates on the challenges the team faced in the beginning of the year regarding connection and how they became as close as they are today.

“We’ve definitely had our ups and downs. During the beginning of the season it was hard to build chemistry and find our rhythm. But I think we’ve finally overcome that obstacle and we are really close now. Our closeness has made us a better team,” said Abiara. 

Junior Kylie Marshall, loves the bond she shares with her teammates and recalls specific memories that helped shape the intimacy they have going into the playoffs. 

“My team and I went to Houston for a tournament. We stayed in hotels, ate breakfast together, and watched movies late at night. I can think of hundreds of locker room moments of us just laughing and talking. Those are some of my favorite moments with my team,” said Marshall. 

Creating personal and team goals has formed an atmosphere immersed in exceptional work ethic and healthy relationships. The girls often ponder on how they personally can improve their game and what they can do as a team in order to ensure success on the court. As they are constantly competing against teams that are ranked high in the district, they fight to make their way to the top. Junior, Tyra Coleman explains how her personal goals have less to do with her skills as a player or more with her interpersonal works as a person.

“Personally I hope to improve my shots. I want to be able to shoot more consistently. But the main thing I need to work on is gaining more confidence and lifting my self esteem,” said Coleman. 

Marshall goes into depth about how confidence is crucial to a consistent and efficient player. She also elaborates on how she hopes to influence her team, while bettering herself .

“As players we have to have confidence because we are always experiencing something new on the court. I want to confidently lead my team to success in the playoffs. To do that I have to support them as well as make sure I’m doing what I need to do. As a team we just need to stay focused and locked into the game. That will get us to where we want to be,” said Marshall.

Unfortunately winning isn’t guaranteed. The girls are working hard and have high hopes for the playoffs but also have some anxiety surrounding the end result of this monumental game. They analyze exactly how they will feel if they win the playoffs as well as how they will improve moving forward if they lose. Senior Madison Pham explores the possibilities of playoffs and the emotions that will immerse when the buzzer goes off.  

“We haven’t been to the playoffs in a long time, so I just want us to enjoy it as a team. I want to do well, but also have fun because it’s my senior year. I feel like especially this year, we have worked so hard to get where we are now. If we win the playoffs it will feel absolutely amazing. If we lose it will hurt, but I would still be proud of my girls and what we’ve done this year. Even losing can’t take that feeling away,” said Pham. 

Gray makes sure the team knows the value of playing a team sport and the life skills, players can gain when they put in effort.

“I want them to realize what a blessing it is to be a part of something bigger than themselves and to gain confidence in who they are. Life is tough and the skills you learn from being a part of a team are invaluable – time management, discipline, sacrifice, battling through adversity. It’s about so much more than basketball,” said Gray.

Above all the girls feel they owe their accomplishments on and off the court to their coach. As they face the intense pressure and craving to win the playoffs, they know coach Gray will support them and be proud of their work ethic either way. Marshall reflects on the impact Coach Gray has had on her as well as the rest of the team.

“She has been my coach for two years and has taught me a lot. She forces me to step out of my comfort zone and do things that I usually wouldn’t. Whether that be with basketball or just life in general. She’s helping me get to where I want to be in the future and I truly appreciate her for that,” said Marshall. 

Pham explains how Coach Gray has touched the lives of people involved in the program, whether they be players, parents, managers, or assistant coaches. 

“Coach Gray has influenced almost everybody in this program. She emphasizes character, and that how you treat others is the most important element to a fair game. That’s the best thing she could have taught us as a team,” said Pham.

Whether the girls win or lose the playoffs, they are proud of how far they have come and how they’ve grown as players and people. The relationships they share with one another and the role model they have found within Coach Gray will carry out into all areas of their lives. Coach Gray has no doubt that these girls will flourish into something amazing simply because of their love for the game and most importantly for each other. 

“I have no doubt our kids will go on to do outstanding things with their lives after high school. They are kids of high character with outstanding work ethic and discipline. I expect great things from my girls in the future,” said Gray.