by Hale Hughes
Girls head coach Troy Carrell had good things to say about his team's start to the season and their win over Warren just before the Thanksgiving break. He acknowledged the elephant in the room that he likely has the youngest team in the district, but was quick to give credit to the upperclassmen and the leadership for the direction of the team early in the season. "Chelsie Sargent and Bethany Mitchell have really taken over this team, and rightly so," said Carrell. "It's their team. The freshmen look like freshmen sometimes. Chelsie and Bethany have shown the younger players where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to be doing, and there are moments that the younger players look very experienced." Carrell added, "When you have that much youth, it's good to have a couple of leaders. That's a big deal."
The Lady Eagles topped Warren, 67-27 and with only two losses to 4A and 5A teams, the early season's momentum led to discussion of expectations, notably after the Thanksgiving break and what the December schedule had in store. "Brutal." In one word, that's how coach Carrell described it. He commented that the Big Sandy tournament will be a key test early this season and will let the Lady Eagles know early how they stand in the region, as many significant schools will be prominent there, notably New Waverly and Franklin, both of who are ranked. Carrell said he was enthusiastic about seeing them saying, "We'll get to see how we stack up."
The players know they are in for a bumpy ride as this early schedule plays out. Carrell says he is using it as a pressure cooker to see which players can handle it. He said he's discussed it with his team and they fully understand what his big plan is "I have to know who can adapt and withstand the stress and anxiety of the tough moments in games. We will need that going forward, especially in playoff situations. I have to know who can deliver when those times come."
Coach Lane Shands takes over at the helm for the boys' basketball program this year. Although the sport has changed, Shands is no stranger to many of the boys that will make up his roster as he has been working with most of them for the past four months. "We have some really athletic kids. They work hard and I know we have good speed, everything you really want for a good basketball team."
Shands has high expectations for his team and said the 'usual supects' will be important games for Woodville to win. "Everyone's goal is to win their district. We have until December 16 to get to where we need to be. I want to attack district play first and then tackle regional and state scenarios at their respective times."
This is Shands' fourth year coaching basketball, and while new to Woodville, playoff basketball has become something that is quite common to him. A product of the west Texas town of Grady, this small community has been to the state tourney six out of the last twelve years. They are a force to be reckoned with and everyone knows when Grady is present at big tournaments. Shands attended Howard Payne and transferred to Texas Tech and graduated in 2013. Shands is keenly familiar with what ingredients it takes to have a successful program. He has seen first-hand state basketball trophies and medals presented to players and he hopes to bring that same success he grew up knowing to the Eagle program here in Woodville.
Shands will begin his schedule immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday break and exciting hoops action looks to be in store for the Woodville faithful to see and be a part of. Schedules of the teams are available on the high school website, www.woodvilleeagles.org