With a young, inexperienced team, Maumelle Lady Hornet Coach Rodney Gilmore experienced the highs and lows this season.
Two games in the 4A-4 district tournament showed that last week. Last Tuesday, the Lady Hornets (5-13) drilled Booneville, 46-21. The next day they suffered a 48-41 setback to Dover. That sort of surprised Gilmore after the Booneville victory coupled with the fact that they defeated Dover at home (47-43) the previous Saturday.
"Against Booneville, we played very well and very relaxed," Gilmore said. "It shocked me we didn’t take that into the next day. You can tell when kids play scared. We were so scared we were missing everything under the basket but were still in the game. We missed free throws so horrible. We made a good comeback and took their lead down to two points."
All year long, Gilmore has been fighting the fear that would overtake his young players. He even pulled quotes out about fear, but the nerves still kicked in, and the Lady Hornets would play scared. In that situation, he couldn’t do anything.
One positive he sees about this season is his young Lady Hornets grew up not only in maturity but in basketball experience. Losing only two seniors in Morgan Fimpel and Alexis Ellis, the bulk of the team returns next season. Still, Maumelle will be young with a bunch of juniors and sophomores.
"A lot of these girls played more games than they ever have," Gilmore said. "We experienced a lot of different things, and next year we can say we’ve been through that."
One thing Gilmore will be looking for in the off-season is a true point guard. Ellis volunteered for the job this season but is really a forward. Gilmore said he has the post players, outside shooters and defense. All he is needs is a floor general. With a young group of guards returning plus some coming up in the sophomore class, he hopes someone emerges during the summer.
"All of us have to learn to take care of the ball better," Gilmore said. "We are moving up to 5A so I just can’t put a young guard at point. I will try to build the guards and hope someone becomes comfortable. The integrity of girls’ basketball is still intact, and we are still moving forward."