WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - The Midwestern State women’s basketball team made their second straight Lone Star Conference tournament last year, but a lot has changed.
Namely, head coach Noel Johnson’s diagnosis with stage four ovarian cancer.
She has progressed greatly since then, but because of that, this season is a little more special.
“God puts you somewhere for a reason," Mustangs senior forward Liz Cathcart said. "So I definitely wanted to come back and be here senior year with her through these changes and adjustments and being there with her and supporting her.”
“I just love this team, I love coach J," Mustangs senior guard Courtney Kerr said. "I just want to work hard for her and I know that this season is going to be the best season we’ve had.”
But those seniors have a big job this season.
Despite returning the majority of last years squad, the Mustangs are young this year with seven underclassmen and they will need those older players to lead well.
“Oh it’s paramount," Mustangs head coach Noel Johnson said. "It’s every day. It’s not just in practice. It’s in the locker room, it’s in the classroom, it’s when you are walking on campus and they exude that leadership and that’s fun to watch.”
“If we want this program to stay a winning program, obviously the seniors have to take a leadership role and teach the younger girls kind of how we want the program to run,” Kerr said.
One of the things they took from last year was the need to get off to a good start and not have to fight for their lives at the end of the season.
“Last season, we didn’t get going till the second half of the conference and that’s when we weren’t going to make it and then we ended up the six seed. So if we can put ourselves in a better position moving forward, I think the results will be a lot better in the end," Cathcart said.
“You saw the details come to light, in how that light switch flips and that’s fun. That’s the best part of coaching is seeing that happen," Johnson said.
The women will open the season Friday in D.L. Ligon Coliseum at 3:30 p.m. in their opening game of the Ashbrook Classic.