The Woodlands has been one of the most successful programs in Montgomery County over the past decade-plus, qualifying for the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons. That streak came to an end last year, however, as the Lady Highlanders struggled to find the win column consistently in district play.
The Woodlands finished last season with an 8-25 overall record and went 3-13 in District 15-6A.
Coach Trista Tatsch is confident the program is headed back in the right direction as the new campaign begins. With only three returning players, the team will have a very different look.
“We’re definitely kind of focused on getting back to being one of the top teams in the district, and obviously getting back into the playoffs, and hopefully extending our season a couple rounds again like we’ve done in the past,” said Tatsch, who is entering her fourth year at the helm.
Tatsch said the players who went through the struggles of last season have been motivated to improve this time around. It was an experience that built their character and tested their fortitude.
“It definitely motivated them,” Tatsch said. “They do not want to go through any of that again, and the good news is that they are now surrounded with a good group of girls coming from the junior varsity. … It’s a great group of girls. They’re great teammates, and they have a lot of heart and a lot of fight.”
The Woodlands does not have a lot of size on its roster, but the team will make up for that with athleticism and quickness. The Lady Highlanders want to push the ball up the court and wear opponents down.
“The team is pretty well-rounded, so I think it’s going to be hard for teams to scout us and see which players they need to focus on,” Tatsch said. “I think at any given time, there’s a lot of girls who could step up and do some good things for us.”
The Woodlands’ three returning players are junior guards Lauren Szot and Hailey Anderson, and senior guard Kaylee Hall, all of whom will be counted on for key contributions this season.
“Lauren was kind of a backup point guard for us last year, but now we’re kind of moving her around,” Tatsch said. “She’s playing a little bit of post for us as well, and she’s been doing a great job.”
Anderson is the top returning scorer for the Lady Highlanders after averaging 7.2 points per game.
“She is a good shooting guard, and I’m looking to see her do some great things,” Tatsch said.
Hall is one of five seniors on the team after playing 32 of 33 games last season.
“She’s doing a good job of leading the group, and she’s coming back with a lot of confidence,” Tatsch said.
Getting back to the postseason will require more success against district opponents. The 16-game slate is loaded with matchups against Conroe, Oak Ridge, College Park, Klein, Klein Oak, Klein Cain, Klein Collins and Klein Forest. The Lady Highlanders avoided last place by defeating Cain twice last season and finished with a victory over Forest.
“I think a lot of the schools graduated some key players,” Tatsch said. “So I think there’s a door open for us to slide in there. I just think we’re going to surprise some people, just by us not being very successful last year. Hopefully, they kind of don’t see us coming. I’m looking forward to getting started and seeing what we can do.”