Last year’s jump in victory total and this year’s bevy of new recruits have the girls basketball staff excited about the direction of the program.
“We’re very pleased with what happened last year,” said head coach Mike Hickey, noting that the team nearly reached its goal of doubling its win total, improving from five wins to nine wins.
Hickey added that the team also achieved its primary goal last season, which was to have fun. “The goal is to have fun first; then you want to be competitive,” he said.
In his first year at the head of the program, Hickey spent much of last season becoming familiar with the Founders League, and said that he had hoped that this year’s squad would be able to compete with recent powerhouses like Loomis for the league title.
The Bearcats feature several new players this year, headlined by postgrad standout Ella Anthony ’21, who Hickey praised for both her shooting touch from long range and her leadership ability on and off the court.
“Her highlight film is terrific, but she’s better than her film shows,” said Hickey of his co-captain. “She’s the leader – she’s very teachable and she has taken a lot of the inexperienced players under her wing.”
Other impressive newcomers include postgrad Madison Bighorn ’21 and preps Angel Allen ’24 and Maya Bateau ’24, said Hickey. All told the roster features 11 preps and lower mids, which should offer room for continued future growth.
Although the additions are new to Hotchkiss, they bring a wealth of competitive experience that they can share with the other girls on the team in practice, said Hickey. Combined with the returners’ enthusiasm from last season’s results, the team is excited to continue improving, he said.
One of the areas of focus for this year has been improving the team’s offense, although Hickey acknowledged that with the gap in practice time between November and March, much of that will have to be reviewed when the team returns from the remote period.
Playing through a three-month break is just one of the challenges the team has faced in this most unusual season, and Hickey gave his whole team kudos for how they handled the situation. Early in the season, the team was practicing on outdoor hoops before they were able to move back indoors.
“That was a real challenge,” said Hickey. “They’ve been really flexible and jumped in with both feet.” He added that the team was able to work with Director of Athletic Performance and Fitness Brodie Quinn on fitness and was able to practice with the boys team.
Bringing in a top-tier player like Anthony could help create a foundation for future success. “Having a player like Ella coming in creates a domino effect,” said Hickey. “That’s the best advertising any program can have.”