Jacksonville head girl's basketball coach Tony Harris told his team he saw something that he liked — improvement — during Wednesday afternoon's practice at the Jacksonville Gymnasium.
The Maidens, who are coming off of an uncharacteristic mediocre season last year in which they finished 18-15, 7-7 in district, have been actively preparing for Saturday's scrimmage at Longview, as well as the season opener on Nov. 10 at Diboll for a week now.
Harris should be a recognizable name to Jacksonville fans as he has already served one tour as Maidens' head coach and was in charge of Troup's Lady Tigers for the past four seasons.
Around three dozen young ladies were in attendance on Halloween afternoon, working on footwork, passing, various fundamentals and, yes, the always dreaded, but necessary conditioning drills.
Those young ladies will comprise the rosters of the school's three teams this fall and winter.
Harris, is not the only familiar face when it come to Maiden hoops. Jacksonville returns five players that are all battle tested and that have paid big dividends in the past for Jacksonville.
Chancii Scott (5-foot-9, senior) is back, along with Sametria Baker (5-foot-6, senior) and Keevie Mathis (5-foot-10, senior).
Scott averaged 12 points per game (ppg.) last year and seven rebounds and should be the team's choice to get the ball to in the paint, once again.
Baker plays both of the guard positions and brings a 4 ppg. and 3 assist per game average back.
Mathis is another one who is not afraid to mix it up in the middle. She accounted for seven boards a night a year ago.
Jasmine Parson, a 5-foot-8 junior point guard, returns this season after missing last year for medical reasons.
Parson was a key cog in the 2010-11 Maiden team that advanced all the way to the regional tournament.
Sophomore Demonica Franklin, an honorable mention all-district choice a year ago, should be another player to watch.
Shenequa Redd-Dorsey is back as an assistant coach, along with Kim Crowley, who is in her first year at Jacksonville.
District 16-4A appears, at least on paper, to be very formidable this season, with the likes of John Tyler, who went 24-9 a year ago, and Lindale, who is making the move from Class 3A — the Lady Eagles made it as far as the regional quarterfinals last season and return all but two off of that squad.
Nacogdoches can't be written off either as the Lady Dragons posted a 23-11 record in 2011-12 and return Charity Page, the district's defensive most valuable player.
The Jacksonville girls will open the campaign by being on the road for the most of the 2012 portion of their schedule.
Jacksonville will play only two home games — Nov. 20 against Lovelady and versus Tatum on Dec. 11, prior to the start of district on Jan. 4, 2013 (at home, against Whitehouse).
The Maidens will play in three tournaments this year, starting on Nov. 29-Dec. 1 with the Ennis Tournament.
On Dec. 6-8 Jacksonville will be a participant in the Great East Texas Shootout in Brownsboro.
The unit's final tourney action will come on Dec. 27-29 when the Maidens play in the Kaufman Tournament.
Beginning with the Jan. 11 game with Lindale, which is slated to take place in Jacksonville, the Maidens and the Indians will be playing at the same venue each night throughout the remainder of the girl's season, which will give fans two varsity games for the price of one.