Updated Wed, Nov 27, 2013 1:37 pm
An experienced head coach and senior-led team highlight the 2013-14 season for the Eastern Eagles girls basketball team.
Head coach John Burdette hopes to continue the success of last season’s 18-4 record by focusing on team chemistry among the five seniors and three freshmen.
The experience of these veteran players is vital to the Lady Eagles’ success this year. Having only seven girls dress varsity last year, Burdette feels that these girls need to step up as a group in order to succeed. Burdette wants the girls to play smarter, and feels that experience will be the main factor that pays off in the end. Despite losing two seniors last season, Burdette thinks his team has all the potential to continue their dominance in the Tri-Valley Conference.
Eastern’s ability to be a family on and off the court is the most unique part about this team. Burdette has coached and been around the senior girls since the fourth grade. Although coaching comes first, Burdette also sees himself as a friend to the girls.
“I look at them like they are my kids and they look at me like I am their good friend or even like a father figure,” said Burdette.
The girls also feel that being together for so many years goes a long way when it comes to playing as a team.
“It’s like we can read each other’s minds,” said senior Jordan Parker. “We are all in the same classes and we’re always doing something together.”
Last year, the Eagles won 14 of their 22 games by 30 or more points and outscored opponents 1,586-695, with only one conference loss to Waterford. Last year was also the first time in school history the girls team made it to the state tournament. After losing by three points in the Final Four game to Berlin Hiland, the girls are focused on redemption this year.
“We want to win the TVC, then sectionals, districts, regionals and states,” said senior Katie Keller. “It’s really just one step at a time.”
For Burdette, the regular season is just practice for the tournament.
“I really don’t look at our wins and losses throughout the regular season because tournament time is what counts,” said Burdette. “Basically, we are practicing for twenty two games for five or six games so the ultimate goal is to make it to the state and try to win it this year.”
The girls have a tough non-conference schedule this year, including tilts with Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans, Jackson and Huntington St. Joe, who has won the state tournament in West Virginia for the last five years and includes three division one signees on the roster. Burdette views this schedule as a “reality check”.
“I try to make a tougher schedule because you have to test yourself and your team and see where you’re at,” said Burdette.
The senior-led team will be tough to handle in the TVC this year. They are led by senior Jenna Burdette, who committed to play at the University of Dayton her sophomore year. But for this team, it’ll be more about playing together as a team, rather than having one standout player.
“Your seventh player is just as important as your first or second or third,” said Burdette.
All five seniors agreed by saying communication and rotation on defense will be crucial for the team’s success this year.
Eastern kicks off its season Dec. 2 on the road against TVC-Hocking foe, South Gallia.