Starkville Christian girls basketball players Heather Koehn, left, Sydney Whitehead (11) and Hannah Buckner (20) defend against Heritage Academy Tuesday afternoon at the Starkville Sportsplex. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Mary Kathryn Whittle has watched the Starkville Christian School girls basketball team develop in a positive way in the last year she has been in charge.
The next step the Lady Cougars need to take in Whittle's mind is to bring a consistent effort to the court for every practice and every game.
Even though Starkville Christian lost its final game of the high school summer league to Heritage Academy Tuesday afternoon, Whittle saw glimpses of what the team can be.
"In the last 2 minutes of that last game, they were a different team," Whittle said. "If they would have played with that intensity the whole game, it would have been a lot closer game. Consistency and playing with confidence is what needs to improve.
"When they are playing to their potential, they can compete with anybody. They can keep it tight and even pull out some wins."
The summer enabled players like Heather Koehn, Sydney Whitehead, Charity Morris, Hannah Buckner, Jazlyn Douglas and others a chance to gain experience.
Whittle liked what the Lady Cougars were able to accomplish during the summer league.
"They are not sitting around all summer if they are playing games," Whittle said. "The more they are on the court together, the better they get to know each other and the better they get when the season comes along.
"We really didn't get to practice much this summer. Even from the first game of the month until the last one, we've gotten a lot better. If they put in the work and stick together, the sky is the limit for them."
Unfortunately for Starkville Christian, Whittle won't be a part of the process.
Whittle, who many people will remember her by the last name of Govero as she played for the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs under coach Sharon Fanning-Otis, will move to the Jackson area with her husband and take a job at her high school in Clinton.
"My husband got a job down in Jackson so I'm following him and get a chance to work at my former high school," Whittle said. "It's been good and it's hard leaving, but I know God has a plan."
(Editor's Note: This is the final story in the series featuring high school basketball teams participating in the summer league at the Starkville Sportsplex. The league wraps up with Thursday night's games.)
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