The Lady Rams found out they still have some maturing to do after battling against Bowie and Granbury in a three-team scrimmage Tuesday in Mineral Wells.

“We started out good and hit some shots right off the bat,” Coach Tony Raffael said. “We scored 25 points in that first scrimmage against Bowie.” 

The scrimmage was set up as a walk-before-you-run affair with no early defensive pressing as the teams worked out their offensive plays and tried to get into a rhythm for scoring.

“We didn’t press in the first part of the scrimmage by design,” Raffael said. “Once we got into the eight-minute quarter segments, that’s when we ran into problems. I think we have a lot of growing up to do in regard to basketball and how to handle that kind of problem.”

Most teams struggle when they face a Bowie defensive press. After five losing seasons, Granbury plucked Alan Thorpe away from Stephenville, and the Lady Pirates are undoubtedly on the rise.

Once the pressing started on the court, the Lady Rams ran into problems transitioning from defense to offense, but it’s not a problem that worries Raffael because this year’s Mineral Wells’ squad has what he values most as a coach.

“The girls we have out this year are coachable,” Raffael said. “We won’t be the tallest players on the court, and we won’t be the best shooters, but we are coachable.”

That means running plays and executing them will be number one on the list of priorities for Raffael, who is coaching a team that 

went 14-14 and then went winless in district play after the loss of Rian Shultz to a knee injury during a Christmas holiday tournament.

Shultz worked hard to rehab the knee and was cleared to play well before the season got started. The senior’s efforts and work to get back onto the basketball court are notable. Shultz has all the skills to be a next-level point guard, and college coaches will see how hard she worked to continue her career.

As the unquestioned leader on the court, Shultz finds herself a veteran about to campaign with a team of youngsters.

“We are young. Right now, we are a junior varsity team that is trying to make that transformation to the varsity level,” Raffael said. “We are going to have to be more physical. It’s something we talk about all the time. We have super nice kids, and we are teaching them once we hit this floor we have to have a little meanness about us.”

Raffael isn’t looking for bullies – he wants players who are not afraid to mix-it-up when it comes to grabbing tough rebounds or when it comes to muscling up under the basket.

Freshman Kate Bradshaw is already showing a penchant for being able to get the hard rebound as she works from the post position, and Raffael feels Bradshaw can be a force on offense, too.

“Kate will be physical for us, and we just need her to cut loose and let go,” Raffael said. “Hannah Seaton is another player who can be physical when she wants.”

Bradshaw will start at post, but Raffael feels like his freshman can play at any spot on the court, and with a handy outside-shot Bradshaw will probably get some opportunities to prove it. 

Raffael has good reason to be concerned about his players being able to push others around because District 7-4A is around the corner, and Stephenville, Godley, Glen Rose and Brownwood all have the reputations of bruising styles.

Paige Riney brings senior leadership and stability to the Lady Rams while still shaking off  volleyball and getting into basketball shape. Quick and elusive, Riney will be a starter Raffael will count on throughout the season.

Raffael has been going back and forth in his decision-making process on how many players he will carry on his varsity team this season. He usually carries 10 players at the varsity level due to playing-time constraints and wanting to develop his sub-varsity teams.

“We are going to have 12 players on varsity this year because we are young and will need to switch out to keep fresh,” Raffael said.

To start the season, it appears Shultz (point guard), Bradshaw (post), Claire Rasmussen (post), Riney (wing), and Seaton (wing) will be the Lady Rams’ starting five.

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