The milestones of last season's efforts still hang firmly in the minds of the Chickasha girls basketball team.
There was much more to it than the 13-13 record they finished with. Collinsville was their final opponent in the state tournament, where they were one win away from challenging for the state title. When the final buzzer sounded, they had three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior out on the floor; a sign that they intend to have many good years to come.
"We've been lucky enough to have a lot of the same kids this year," head coach Christy Edelen, in her fourth year at Chickasha, said. "We're just trying to work on building that chemistry."
Part of that process will include important preseason scrimmages like the one against Blanchard on Tuesday. (quick recap)
Another big moment will come in late January, when the team gets an 11 day break from games while the boys team competes in the Altus tournament. Between their Jan. 17 game against Noble and the Jan. 28 game against Elgin, the Lady Chicks will take some time to recover from the season so far and prepare for the final turn and home stretch of the season.
"It allowed us to get our legs underneath us," Edelen said about the break last season. "Then on senior night last year, we defeated Shawnee, who was the number one team at the time. That really propelled us forward."
Edelen hopes similar circumstances will help her team build a successful season again this year behind the play of the more experienced players. The two seniors, Alex Stewart and Maddy Irving, will no doubt bear much of the weight as team leaders.
"We're looking for a lot out of them this year," Edelen said.
But the underclassmen will have their own weight to carry. The group includes Dominique Golightly, who finished last season with a double-double, 26 points and 11 rebounds, in the area game against Collinsville. As a freshman, Taylor Sylvester stood out last year and comes into this season with valuable experience to add to her talent.
"She came a long very well last year," Edelen said. "We've got kids with experience, but we'll have to continue developing that group. Our scrimmages have been good."
The senior pair of Sierra Hamilton and Hanna Slaton, who proved so crucial to the late season run last year, is now gone. But the attitude they showed may still live on in the players that were with them on that magical playoff run.
"We definitely know we have the experience of winning big games, and the program hasn't had that in a number of years," Edelen said. "It's a tough conference, but we just want to get to the point where we're competing and have the chance to win every game."