When a program has been to the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons, one might think it has the foundation to be complacent.
Don’t tell that to the McKinney North girls basketball team, who despite reaching the postseason every year for the last decade, enters the 2019-20 campaign on a mission. After ending last season on a whimper to Frisco Liberty in the bi-district round of the playoffs, North is focused on winning the program’s first district title and playoff game since 2016 when it was bounced in the regional quarterfinal round.
For all this to become a reality, third-year head coach Veronica Hamilton knows her team must constantly improve all season long and have a bit of good fortune and be healthy after finishing last season with three of the Lady Bulldogs’ top players either sick or injured in the final week of the season.
“Every year, I try to raise expectations because I know what we are capable of, but last year we were so plagued with injuries. We went into the playoffs without a lot of our big parts, which was a gut punch,” Hamilton said. “This year, our motto has been to fight for every single thing and compete, and as a result, I’m making all the little things mandatory so we can reach our potential. Because the expectations have been raised, the effort must be maximized.”
North’s developing roster will be led by outstanding senior guard Chelsea Wooten and first-team all-district junior guard Amaria Fields.
Currently, Wooten and Fields are the Lady Bulldogs’ leading scorers and are averaging 17 and 22 points per game, respectively, through North’s tough non-district slate. For North to reach the lofty standards and expectations surrounding the program, both of their talented guards know they must be consistent on and off the court and lead a talented roster that has improved from top to bottom since last season ended.
“I’m very confident in myself and my team. My goals this year are to be healthy and have a good senior year, along with teaming up with Amaria and helping lead this team to an undefeated district title and some playoff wins,” Wooten said. “It bugs me that I was injured and not able to help my team last year during the playoffs, so I’m using this season as my revenge tour. But as long as we communicate, trust each other and improve our chemistry, we will have a great season.”
For Fields, who set several school scoring records last year while having a magical sophomore campaign and leading North in scoring, this season is about taking things to another level and experiencing team success. After missing last postseason to illness, Fields is putting pressure on herself to do more to deliver for the Lady Bulldogs.
“I think about missing last season’s playoffs every day and hear about it from my AAU teammates. so I’m using that as motivation to play better and succeed and win and get to the next round in the playoffs,” Fields said. “I’m glad coach Hamilton has high expectations for every one of us on the because we will have to meet them to make our goals become a reality this season.”