Heath Swiney said his second Lonoke Lady Jackrabbit basketball squad was getting better through its summer work.
The Lady Rabbits played 24 games over eight days in June. They had more games scheduled with Brinkley and Cabot on July 25.
“We have a lot of kids that have gotten a lot better this summer,” he said. “They are more aggressive. Obviously, just like last year, everybody’s going to be trying to stop Keiunna (Walker, the rising senior). But I really feel like with what we’ve got around her, we’ll be OK. These other kids have come out of their shell.”
He pointed out the play of rising senior Mickenzie Williams, junior Hannah Moseley, junior Mia Brown and senior Maddie Pool. Knee surgery will likely keep junior Kaley Woodruff out until the Goldfish Classic over Christmas break, Swiney said.
“Somebody’s got to step up for Kaley,” he said. “Mickenzie has done a really good job this summer, especially on defense. Hannah has gotten a lot better offensively. She’s an undersized post player, but she’s worked on her post moves. Mia Brown is looking for her shot, which is something she had to do. Maddie Pool is starting to run the floor really well. Even when she gets the rebound on one end, she’s sprinting down the floor trying to get the ball back.
“We’re definitely going to be able to put more pressure on than we did last year. I really feel like that core group from last year has gotten a lot better.”
The Lady Rabbits will be without senior Gracie Hyde, who has moved to Benton and given up basketball to focus on track.
“I told her it’s been a privilege to be able to coach her because she worked so hard,” Swiney said. “She didn’t say a whole lot, but in the weight room or running springs, all the stuff other kids didn’t want to do, she was the leader.
“She’s a great student, so we’re not just losing a good athlete. I had her for a year and wish I could’ve had her for two.”
After the summer games Tuesday Swiney said he would give his players two weeks off.
“They need to enjoy the rest of the summer,” he said. “I told them I don’t want to see them again until school starts.”
Swiney’s first LHS squad finished 22-10 with the school’s first state tournament appearance since 2014.