GCA Lady Cougars basketball looking ahead as 2023 season comes to a close

Published 1:56 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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The Grace Christian Academy Lady Cougars basketball season came to an end on Tuesday night in the GIAA state playoffs as they were defeated in a hard fought game against Highland Christian Academy. Despite the loss, the 2023 season was a preview of things to come for the GCA Lady Cougar basketball program as this year saw the progress and development of many young players in their program.

Going into the season, the Lady Cougars not only saw two new coaches, but only one returning starter from the previous season. Despite all the change and youth among the Lady Cougars program, coaches Kelsey Harrell and Delaney Mueller established a culture of hustle and grit during the 2023 season.

“We had one returning starter from last season and the girls had two new coaches,” said Harrell. “Delaney I didn’t get to put in any summer work with them as we were hired in October. The

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girls embraced us and our coaching style and trusted us to teach them. Within five months, we watched nine young ladies turn into a basketball team and ball players. Even though our record does not show it, this group of girls turned into a good basketball team, and we are very excited for next season.”

This season, the youth of the Lady Cougars shined and showed hope for the future this season as sophomores Chloe Brogdon, Sara Kate Crews and Reagan Delanoy took charge of the Lady Cougars and filled the stat sheet, as well as freshman Lanie Gay. Offensively, Brogdon led the Lady Cougars as she averaged 9.2 points per game, scoring a team-high 238 points, as well as leading the Lady Cougars with 8.7 rebounds per game.

“Delaney and I are ecstatic for the next couple of years with the group of young girls that we developed throughout this season,” said Harrell. “Sophomore Chloe Brogdon led the team in stats with 238 points and 225 rebounds. She was the MVP of this team, and having her return for two years is huge for the program. Sophomore Sara Kate Crews had never touched a basketball until last October, and she turned into a big asset for the team. Sophomore Reagan Delanoy and freshman Lanie Gay were integral parts of the team and had big shoes to fill from the starters last year. Just like Sara Kate and Chloe, they were brand new to the starting role in varsity basketball, and they handled the job well. All four of these players will be the core of the team next year, and we can’t wait to start working with them in the off season to get them ready for next year.”

Although the future for the Lady Cougars program is bright, the season coming to an end was bittersweet for three Lady Cougars seniors who are now just three months away from graduation. For Harrell, seeing Katherine Griffin, Kassidy Widner, and Christina Longs develop as players and people was special to see.

“The three seniors turned into leaders this season, which was needed for the team’s morale,” said Harrell. “It was interesting to watch as the coach because these seniors tend to be quieter, and we needed them to be more outspoken and enthusiastic leaders. They were required to turn themselves into a leader for the betterment of the team, and they did that. Getting to know Kassidy, Christina, and Katherine as both athletes and young ladies has been a privilege to Delaney and me.”

Although the Lady Cougars will have to wait until October for their next matchup, Harrell is excited to continue to grow the Lady Cougar program and will have many opportunities to get some team workout sessions in during the off-season. For Harrell and Mueller, their focus is on becoming a competitive force in their region and giving their players an opportunity to win a region championship.

“A big goal for the team next year is to be competitive in our region,” said Harrell. We are in the most competitive region in our classification, and next year we want to be a threat to the other teams. With so many returning players, we can achieve this goal.”