When asked how interesting it will be when the Lady Cardinals begin the 2020-21 basketball season without the benefit of a summer season, scrimmages or a jamboree, coach Stan Gatlin used five verys and laughed a little.
On Nov. 23 he only had six players in his basketball class. He recruited a couple more from the halls. In time some players who are out are expected to join the time, but in the early going it will be “very, very, very, very, very interesting.”
Three-year starters Albanie Dunn and Sylvia Jones, both of whom were prolific scorers throughout their careers, graduated last spring.
The only major contributor back is senior DeMiyah Gatlin, the coach’s daugher. She can play and guard multiple positions and averaged 12 points per game a season ago. Gatlin was the team’s leading scorer last season in district play.
“We’re looking for her to lead the team,” Gatlin said. “She’s been doing a great job of pushing the girls and leading. We just need her to be consistent with that. She’s been pretty much consistent … I’m looking for her to take that next step. She’s been dynamite in practice.”
Sophomore Cassidy Johnson is the only other player with significant varsity experience.
Two freshmen – Lana Vaden and Mariah Maclin – were standouts for Brighton Middle last season and will be asked to contribute immediately. Vaden is a quick point guard and Maclin plays primarily in the post.
Brighton has been one of the best teams in its district the last two seasons, winning a combined 42 games. This year’s team will have a lot of new faces.
“If everything goes like it should and how hard they’ve been working in practice, we should be competitive,” Gatlin said. “We have a lot to learn and a lot to teach. It’s going to be a process. I’ve actually gone home and had some good thoughts about this team.”