Despite only being a sophomore, Drew guard Jada Hargrove is expected to be a leader on the team. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
RIVERDALE — If you ask anyone associated with the Drew girls’ basketball program, they will likely tell you that last season ended prematurely.
The Titans only needed one win in the Region 4-AAAAA tournament to earn a spot in the state tournament. Drew came up short, losing 47-46 against Whitewater in that all important game.
Drew took that one point loss into the offseason.
“I think we are a lot hungrier coming into the season,” Drew senior center LaKiah Sims said. “It is my final year, I want to go out on top.”
Titans coach Candence Jackson got a good indication of how much the team is determined about the season. In a rematch with Whitewater a few weeks ago, the Titans won 63-36 in the third game of the season.
Coming into tonight’s game against McIntosh, the Titans sport a 4-1 record overall and 3-0 in the region.
“Our hard work in the offseason has been paying off for us,” Jackson said. “Our kids are in excellent shape. We are playing four good strong quarters of basketball. From our last loss last season, we only had a couple weeks off. We are playing good basketball, but we have a long way to go.”
Drew’s lone loss came to Langston Hughes (59-58) in the second game of the season.
Jackson said last season’s region tournament loss has left a bad taste in her players’ mouth.
“After going through that loss, I don’t think they want to have that feeling again,” Jackson said.
“We are using that game as motivation,” sophomore guard Jada Hargrove said. “It has been a decent season so far, and there is room for improvement. We can’t just settle for winning. We have to be consistent with our winning and the way we play every night.”
The Titans returned all five starters from last season’s team. While the team is led by Sims, several younger players are playing key roles.
Jackson is counting on Hargrove and fellow sophomore Selena Robinson. Sims has attracted the attention of several colleges, but her teammates say they can’t rely solely on her.
“We all have to contribute to the success of this team,” junior Shun Gayden said. “LaKiah can’t be the only one scoring and rebounding for us. We have to feed off each other, and do our part.”
The Titans are trying to return to its form when it reached the state playoffs in consecutive seasons. During the 2010-11 season, Drew won the first region championship in school history and advanced to the first round of the Class AAA playoffs.
In the next season, the Titans lost in the region title game, but still advanced to the playoffs.
“We are a very young team, but they have some talent,” Jackson said. “We have played together for a while, so we are not going to make any excuses. We just want to make it happen.”