As the Coppell girls basketball team embarks on the start of the 2021-22 season, one aspect that third-year head coach Ryan Murphy is excited about is the commitment that his Cowgirls made to the weight room during the offseason.
“We invested a ton of time into the weight room starting in March,” he said. “We felt like we needed to be tougher both physically and mentally following last season. Coach (Will) Tran took the lead in the weight room and developed a point-based competitive system and the girls really took to it.
“Their results and strength gains tells the truth about their commitment this off-season. And they had fun with it too, they are really proud of their increased numbers. Throughout the fall we've seen their improved strength show up in rebounding, defense and general toughness.”
Going through the gauntlet of District 6-6A requires a lot of mental toughness. Murphy said that he saw a lot more of that mental toughness from his team during the second half of district play last season when the Cowgirls posted a 4-3 record after going 1-6 during the first half. He hopes that the Cowgirls can pick up where they left off at the end of last season.
“The second half of district we started to improve our consistency,” Murphy said. “It wasn't perfect, but it was better. We've spent the offseason talking about building consistent habits that allow us to get off to a better start this year.”
And Coppell boasts the experience to start the season on the right foot after finishing last season with an overall record of 13-13 and a 5-9 mark in 6-6A play.
Junior guard Waverly Hassman had quite the comeback last season after being limited to two games her freshman year because of an ankle injury. She led the Cowgirls in both scoring with 11.2 points per game and 3-point shooting at 37%.
Junior guard Julianna LaMendola has the potential to be one of the breakout stars in District 6-6A this season. An honorable mention all-district selection as a sophomore, she averaged 7.2 points and 1.7 assists per game. LaMendola has received attention from several Division I college and received offers from Abilene Christian and Hawaii.
One Cowgirl that saw significant gains in the weight room during the offseason is senior forward India Howard. She has improved her squat from 155 to 225 pounds and saw an improvement of 60 pounds in the deadlift. An all-district second-team performer as a junior, Howard averaged 8.7 points per game and led the team in rebounding at 6.7 boards per contest.
“Jules has a terrific amount of potential and is a great competitor, which has drawn a lot of interest from college coaches,” Murphy said. “Waverly is one of the highest IQ basketball players I've coached, and she is a great athlete as she showed during track season last year. As for India, she is certainly a monster in the weight room and her strength translates to the court, especially on the defensive end where she can really impact a game. Those three are going to have to play well for us to achieve our goals.”
Sophomore Ella Spiller provided great energy on both ends of the court last season as a freshman and will again be counted on to deliver for the Cowgirls this season. Junior guard Allyssa Potter is one of the team’s top perimeter shooters.
“Ella has arguably had the best fall of anyone in our program,” Murphy said. “Allyssa Potter was a shooter for us last year but has really worked on her defense and will be a significant contributor for us as well.”
Junior guard Saiya Patel and senior forward Kim Obialo also figure to receive significant playing time for Coppell.
Coppell tipped off the season Friday at home against Frisco Centennial. The Cowgirls will return to action Tuesday at Colleyville Heritage.
Tournaments will return this season after a one-year hiatus last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coppell will host the Coppell Tipoff Classic from Nov. 18-20. The Cowgirls are also slated to compete in the Toast of the Coast Tournament (Dec. 2-4) and the Frisco Centennial Tournament (Dec. 28-30).