Women’s basketball to bounce back in 2019
The GC Women’s basketball team ranks in 10th place out of 12 teams in the Peach Belt Conference with a 4-6 conference record and 6-10 overall. With 12 games left, the Bobcats still have an outside chance to make the playoffs.
The team is led by its top two scorers Jasmine McSwain, who is averaging 13.9 points per game, and Sydney Cleveland, who averages 11.3.
“Recently in the past couple of games, we have lost by one or two points,” Cleveland said. “We need to collectively figure out how to finish a game.”
The Bobcats will have to climb from 10th to 8th place to make a playoff berth possible.
“We need to learn how to focus the entire game, be more aggressive on offense,” McSwain said. “We can’t play to relax or play to the tempo or to the level of the team that we are playing. We are better than a lot of teams in the conference, but sometimes we play to their level.”
The Bobcats have a long stretch of Peach Belt Conference matchups coming up, and their coach Maurice Smith is confident that his girls can improve their performance and win more games as the season progresses.
“Our strategy differs according to each opponent,” Smith said. “The Peach Belt teams that we play show a wide array of different types of skill sets and strengths that they have. We do face a lot of athleticism. We do not want them to use their athletes to pressure us and turn the ball over, meaning we have to do a great job taking care of the ball and rebounding.”
The team has a multitude of goals it set every year, and one of those goals is to finish in the top half of the PBC standings and make it to the Peach Belt Tournament, which will be a tough challenge.
“We always hold each other accountable, and I love how we have the same family unit on and off the court, like we are sisters,” McSwain said. “We know how to react under pressure; we are not reactive to pressure.”
McSwain is known for her ability to attack the basket, finding the open man on the court, or as she calls it “hitting who is hot,” and noticing the gaps on the court to get to the basket.
“We need to play off of each other more and recognize the open pass or the better shot,” Cleveland said. “Staying strong is important when things start to break down.”
The team bond and ability to collaborate are things that Cleveland said were strengths. She is a strong offensive player who also converts nearly 72% of her free throws.
“Whether the outcome of a game is good or bad, we consistently exercise our best effort and stick together,” Cleveland said.
The intangibles are also important to winning games: defending, diving on the floor for loose balls and rebounding. As far as defense goes, Smith is satisfied with his girls’ performance, especially their ability to hold their opponents’ scores under 60 points in the last four games.
The top defenders on the team are Kenyatta Storms and Keyonna Wesley, who have been instrumental in helping hold down opponents scoring. In order to win more games, the Bobcats must play consistently for 40 minutes, staying focused the entire game and playing more aggressively on the offensive side. The team holds up the motto, “Focus the entire 40.”
By taking each game step by step and focusing on shooting, tough defense and rebounding, the Bobcats can increase their chances of winning more games going forward.