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AN EXPECTATION HAS BEEN SET.
Last season the Lady Warriors made the jump to 5A competition like the rest of TWCA, and much like the rest of Warrior Athletics, they thrived.
The Warriors finished the season second in district play, with their only two losses coming to eventual state runners-up Second Baptist. TWCA also won their bi-district playoff game before falling in the area round of the 5A bracket.
Now, for head coach Kevin Zubke and his program, the expectation is to remain at that high level of play.
Entering his 9th season as the head coach of the Warriors, Zubke knows that this year's team will have a different look than last season's.
A good portion of the Warriors' scoring graduated, which means that TWCA will have to find different ways to win.
"Defense is going to be essential for us this season," Zubke said. "It's always a high priority, but this year we'll have to create offense from the defensive side of the ball."
TWCA returns a solid core of players in seniors Mackenzie Morris, Reagan Harris, Madison Frey and Danielle Mendoza, alongside junior Kelly Gorman. This group of five will be the leaders of the program, as the rest of the roster will be filled with underclassmen eager to make their mark for the Warriors.
To stay in that "upper echelon" as Zubke puts it, the Warriors will have to have balanced scoring from each player.
"Everyone is going to have to contribute this year," he said.
Morris, a two-sport athlete who is committed to play softball for HBU, led the team in assists and steals last season and will look to expand her role this year.
"She brings a toughness to the floor that we need," Zubke said. "We'll need every player to match her intensity and grit for us to reach the level we want to be at."
While the 2021-2022 squad will have a different composition, you can expect that the Warriors will be one of the toughest teams on the court in TAPPS 5A District 5.
WHEN TANNER FIELD AND COMPANY ARRIVED AT THE WOODLANDS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY A FEW YEARS AGO, HE KNEW SOMETHING SPECIAL COULD BE BUILT.
They wanted to be a storied program. One that hung a new state championship banner year after year. After winning crowns in 2018, 2020 and then 2021 to give the program seven overall crowns, the next mission is the three-peat.
"It really solidifies us as the only group to three-peat," Field said. "I definitely feel like we should have done that going into 2019 but there's a lot of things that have to play into a title."
As Field prepares for the 2021-22 season, which will see teams gunning to hand the back-to-back champs a loss on any given night, he admits this team will be different than past ones.
The Warriors don't have that 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 kid to put down in the paint and have bang around for rebounds and interior paint points. They will run a five-guard system, which they haven't done before.
Led by Austin Benigni, they will "play with more pace", "press more" and "get out and outrun teams" as their main gameplan. And, if they can make them, TWCA will be more dangerous beyond the arc in 2022.
"I think this is going to be our best coaching year from a standpoint of winning another championship," Field said. "We definitely have the tools. It'll be a fun season and a challenge for us that we're ready to get started on."
With Benigni, who is the floor general for the Warriors seeking his third-straight crown, the Warriors have stability in the backcourt.
Sprinkle in Chanse Perkins, who Field believes is one of the best defenders in the city; with 6-foot-7 wing Wyatt Boeker, who is "super confident with ball handling skills"; Josh Bento, whose older brother won a title at TWCA; and then Giovanni Awasum and Jack Cole, who will join the team after football season concludes – this group is loaded again.
"We should be starting four Division I-type kids," Field said. "It'll be a fun season."