The Wolfpack

Lady Timberwolves Basketball Season Preview

Young Team Has Eyes on Another District Championship

Warming+up+before+practice%2C+varsity+captain%2C+junior+Nicole+Leff%2C+prepares+for+the+Lady+Timberwolves%27+first+game.+The+team+has+been+practicing+since+early+August+to+prepare+for+their+tough+preseason+schedule.+%22%5BThe+team%5D+is+dedicated+to+making+everyone+the+best+they+can+be%2C%22+Leff+said.+%22And+to+ensure+that+happens%2C+we+come+into+every+practice+with+a+positive+attitude+and+a+willingness+to+work+hard.%22+
Warming up before practice, varsity captain, junior Nicole Leff, prepares for the Lady Timberwolves' first game. The team has been practicing since early August to prepare for their tough preseason schedule.

Warming up before practice, varsity captain, junior Nicole Leff, prepares for the Lady Timberwolves' first game. The team has been practicing since early August to prepare for their tough preseason schedule. "[The team] is dedicated to making everyone the best they can be," Leff said. "And to ensure that happens, we come into every practice with a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard."

Callie Copeland

Callie Copeland

Warming up before practice, varsity captain, junior Nicole Leff, prepares for the Lady Timberwolves' first game. The team has been practicing since early August to prepare for their tough preseason schedule. "[The team] is dedicated to making everyone the best they can be," Leff said. "And to ensure that happens, we come into every practice with a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard."

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With over 40 program wins last season and an undefeated district title under their belt, the Lady Timberwolves basketball team began their first full week of practice last Monday. Varsity captain, junior Nicole Leff, said they are working to repeat last year’s successful season.

“I’m looking forward to going 14-0 and being district champs again,” Leff said. “Our team is dedicated to making everyone the best they can be, and to ensure that happens we come into every practice with a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard.”

Part of what Leff said makes their team successful is their close bond, from pranking each other in the locker room to making music videos at tournaments. However, she said that they never fail to get down to business during practice.

“Even when we stretch it’s pretty intense,” Leff said. “It helps us get focused for our warm-up drills and individual drills that we do.”

Senior captain Pujita Shukla said that every practice starts with warm-ups and individually-focused drills, followed by scrimmaging and practicing potential game situations.

“At first, [in preseason] we conditioned a lot and went to the weight room,” Shukla said. “And now we go over more offensive and defensive breakdown drills, which is everyone’s favorite part of practice.”

There is a certain level of ‘we know what it takes to be here, so we need to make sure we practice that way.’”

— Coach Donny Ott

Shukla said that everything is followed by running punishments- every free throw missed, scrimmage lost and each drill not finished in a certain time. Even when a drill is completed or a scrimmage is won, Shukla said the team has to “verify” the win with a made free throw.

“Last year we got more in shape because of [the running], and this year it’s more about the competition part of it,” Shukla said. “Because we know that there is running for everything, there is more of a drive to succeed and not have the punishment.”

Another aspect of the game that the team has been working on since Coach Donny Ott arrived is communication on the court. Coach Ott said this year’s team is more vocal in practice and that he sees a tighter bond between the players.

“There is a certain level of ‘we know what it takes to be here, so we need to make sure we practice that way,’” Coach Ott said. “I feel like there is a maturity level on this team that I love.”

Apart from looking forward to last year’s returning players improve, Coach Ott said that he is excited for the younger players to make their mark. Sophomore Alisa Knight is a first-year varsity starter and said that she is looking forward to contributing spirit and energy to the team.

“I hope to be a leader by being vocal on the court,” Knight said. “I want to encourage younger generations to work hard in practice, play as a team and work individually outside of practice.”

Knight is one of the five players new to varsity competition, and one returning varsity player, junior Addie Dawson, said that she is hopeful they will adjust to the new level of play and become assets to the team. 

The toughest team we’ll face is us. Mentally, we have got to believe that we can beat Pflugerville. Inevitably it comes down to the kids- the kids have got to believe that.”

— Coach Donny Ott

“[The team] is definitely younger,” Dawson said. “But with the lack of experience, we have more spirit and determination to do or to exceed what we did last year.”

Leff, Shukla, Knight and Dawson all said that the main obstacle in the way of another record-breaking season is one of the Lady Timberwolves’ district opponents, the Pflugerville Lady Panthers.

“They have a Division-1 post and they just recruited a really good guard,” Shukla said. “But we are not afraid of them even though they are big competition because our practices are geared to win against anyone we face.”

Coach Ott, however, said that the team’s greatest obstacle is not an opponent they will meet in preseason tournaments, district games or even playoffs.

“The toughest team we’ll face is us,” Coach Ott said. “Mentally, we have got to believe that we can beat Pflugerville. Inevitably it comes down to the kids- the kids have got to believe that.”

The Lady Timberwolves will compete in their first tournament of the regular season this week in Burleson. Their preseason and district schedule can be found here.

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About the Contributor
Callie Copeland, Reporter

Callie is a senior here at Cedar Park High School and this is her first year on staff. She's involved in multiple honor societies, including being the President of NEHS, she plays on the varsity basketball team, and she is the President of Ping Pong Club! She enjoys writing human interest stories and...

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