Spain Park relying on seniors to lead motivated team

Published 2:08 pm Monday, November 8, 2021

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

The Spain Park girls basketball team enters the 2021-2022 season as motivated as any after several close losses last year kept the Jaguars from making a run to the Sweet 16 and possibly the Final Four.

Going into a new season, they’re not only using that as fuel to drive this year’s team to greatness, but head coach Mike Chase is hoping his four seniors can be leaned on to get the team there.

“This group of seniors will have to carry the load. I told them, ‘Look, I trust these four, the fifth person I put on the floor, I don’t trust. They don’t know all of our plays, they’re a work in progress,’” he said. “Basically, they have to be perfect. As long as I don’t have to coach the seniors, then I can coach that fifth person.”

So the Jags are aiming for that group to be what gets them over the hump in this close games this year after winning the state championship two years ago.

One of those senior leaders returning will be guard Camille Chase, who led the team in scoring last year thanks to 8.9 points per game, while she also added 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.

“There is a very heavy expectation, especially for me since I have been playing for so long and know what he wants,” she said. “As a team, we have to help him get there. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we can do it.”

Camille said she also looks at herself as a leader that has to set the tone for how practice and the games go, that way the seniors do what they need to do so the coaches can work with the younger players.

“This is kind of our last ride so to speak,” she said. “Next year will be very young and inexperienced. We have to give this year everything we have.”

In addition to Camille, Kerri Barnes, Alex Baskin and Paxton Gillispie will all be leaned on as the seniors, but there isn’t a ton of experience from a scoring standpoint at the varsity level from that group.

They have, however, been around a winning program for several years.

With no juniors, several sophomores and several freshmen on the team, relying on what they’ve seen on what it takes to build a championship program when they were younger will be key.

“When you can put four 17-18 year old kids on the floor in girls basketball, I don’t care if you’re at a 7A school or not, usually you just don’t have four senior starters, so we’re going to have to rely on that experience, that age to carry us this year,” the head coach said.

It also helps that Chase has been coaching the players for years, since he also coaches the middle school team.

The key, however, will be meshing the older players with the younger players to bring the team together as one unit with the same goal.

Chase is hoping a challenging schedule, which the Jags face every year, will help his team come along throughout the season.

Having already opened with Sparkman in a 73-33 loss and Lee-Huntsville in a 40-33 loss, that knocks out two of the best teams in the state in back-to-back days to open the season with several more ahead.

“Our guys are going to compete,” he said. “We have no cupcakes on our schedule. What counts is January. That’s the great thing. If we go up and learn how to do something different against Sparkman, Lauderdale County, McGill-Toolen… by the time we get to January, it’s really six games. That’s what determines what your season.”

He also said it fires him and the players up that they could possibly be doubted by anyone.

“I love when people tell me and us that we can’t do something,” he said. “It fires me up. So yeah, I’m fired up.”

Spain Park’s upcoming schedule features a matchup with Cullman on Nov. 9, a game against Oxford on Nov. 11, a game against Lauderdale County on Nov. 13 and a county battle with Oak Mountain on Nov. 19.