The GC women’s basketball team ended their season finishing 15-12 on the year, and 9-10 in the Peach Belt Conference. The 2016-17 year was marked by ups and downs for the team, as the Bobcats started strong, winning seven of their first eight games, but eventually went on losing streaks of three and four throughout the season.
Head GC women’s basketball coach Maurice Smith is optimistic about the progress the team made over this past season and is looking forward to building upon the winning culture that was fostered in the locker room.
“It was good to see our team grow together throughout the season,” said Smith, fresh off his seventh year as head coach. “One of our goals this season was to have a winning record overall and make it to the Peach Belt Tournament.”
The Bobcats were solid defensively, ranking seventh in the nation in defensive field goal percentage, and Smith expects that will be the cornerstone of the team moving forward.
“We need to improve our offensive efficiency, but there are some good takeaways that we can improve on going forward,” Smith said.
A strong core of senior players led the Bobcats throughout the year. One such leader was senior point guard LaRice Walker, who led the team with 4.5 assists per game. Walker spoke optimistically of the team going forward.
“This year, it took us a little longer to mesh together on the floor. We’ve got a lot of new players, so that’s difficult for anybody,” said Walker, a four-year starter for GC. “Towards the end of the year, we started playing for each other, and coming together a little bit better.”
Walker took on a major leadership role this year as a senior.
“A lot of new, younger girls were depending on my leadership, my example, especially as a point guard, on and off the floor,” Walker said. “My leadership was the main thing I tried to focus on to mesh us together and keep us going.”
In her final year as a Bobcat, Walker tried to leave a lasting impression on the culture of the locker room.
“As a team, I just wanted us to believe in ourselves and, regardless of trials and tribulations, ups and downs, that we could lean and depend on each other,” Walker said.
The bond Walker and the three other senior players instilled will help a young, growing Bobcats team heading into next year.
One player primed and ready to step into a leadership role next year is junior forward Alyah McGriff. McGriff led the Bobcats in scoring last season, averaging 15.1 points per game, and shot just over 50 percent from the field. McGriff said that the example set by Walker and the entire senior class has prepared her to come on strong as a senior next year, and she is welcoming the challenge.
“In the offseason, I’m going to be doing more dribbling and shooting workouts, and plan on lifting more to become stronger,” McGriff said. “I hope to make more of an impact next year on the court.”