Granbury Lady Pirates basketball coach Leta Andrews believes she’s going to have a pretty good team this season.
And she thinks they’ll be even better once they are all together.
With three players still in volleyball, and coach Tammy Clark’s Lady Pirates among the best volleyball teams in Texas, it could be a little while before Andrews’ roster is complete.
In the meantime, she looks at it as a way to get some players valuable experience, thus making the overall squad better when volleyball players Amber Strange, Erin Jones and Kennedy Shelstead arrive.
“When the volleyball girls get here, it will give us a balanced team – and they’ve tasted success, so that will also help a lot,” said Andrews.
However, it’s not as though Andrews expects her team to be fodder for other foes in the meantime. In fact, quite the opposite.
“We’ll be fine,” said Andrews. “Our cupboard isn’t completely empty.”
The Lady Pirates return one starter from last season’s 22-14 team that advanced to the third round of the playoffs before being eliminated by District 7-4A champion and state semifinalist Aledo. The Lady Pirates finished third in district behind the Ladycats and Trimble Tech Lady Bulldogs, both of whom are ranked in the state’s top 20 in preseason by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (Aledo third, Trimble Tech 17th).
Senior Morgan Northcutt (10.6 points, 1.4 steals), a first-team All-District 7-4A selection, will likely split time at point guard and shooting guard. She has been on the varsity since her freshman season.
Northcutt had perhaps her biggest moment as a Lady Pirate in a second-round 54-46 upset of Wichita Falls Rider last season. She was 10-for-10 at the free throw line in the final quarter.
“She has a good attitude and she’ll play anywhere I want her,” said Andrews or Northcutt. “She’s the player with the experience. She’s an intelligent young lady. She’s on fire to pick the rest of them up with her.”
Joining Northcutt will be a former member of the Aledo Ladycats. Junior Bryce Frank, a 6-foot-3 post, moved to Granbury during the summer.
“Bryce has been in the mix of success, and that will shine through when she steps on the floor,” said Andrews.
Also a move-in is 6-foot forward Shelstead. Her father is a former coach at Mineral Wells.
In volleyball alongside Shelstead are 5-9 freshman post Amber Strange and 5-6 sophomore guard Erin Jones. Strange made an immediate transition from junior high to high school on the varsity volleyball team and has been one of Clark’s standouts this season.
Andrews anticipates the same.
“Amber is an athlete. I truly believe she will hit the floor running and be a strong force,” said Andrews. “And she loves basketball.”
Shelstead was a starter for her dad in Mineral Wells and helped the Lady Rams reach the postseason. Andrews expects that experience to be valuable.
“Kennedy has a passion for basketball. She’s got some quickness,” said Andrews. “She’s going to fit in the glove nicely. Once one has experienced postseason basketball, you don’t forget it and you want to get back there.”
Andrews’ assistant coaching staff includes Ed Shelstead, Emily Britt and Dina Carlton. Shelstead and Britt are former head coaches, with Britt leading the North Central Texas Academy Lady Pioneers to a TAPPS Class A state championship in her only season as a head coach.
“When coach Shelstead and Emily made the decision to come to Granbury, Leta Andrews got a whole lot better as a coach,” said Andrews with a chuckle. “They brought a whole lot of expertise, and they have been successful in their positions.”
Britt also played for Andrews in the late 1990s on some of the best teams in school history. It has been rumored part of the reason she was brought on board is to be groomed to replace Andrews, but Andrews said either she or Shelstead would be a suitable replacement – providing the day ever does come Andrews decides to retire.
Andrews is in her 52nd season and enters this season with 1,397 victories, the most of any basketball coach ever.
“I think either one of those two could make it a smooth transition if I ever leave Granbury,” said Andrews. “They both believe like I do.
“Shoot, it could be both of them – but I’m not gone yet.”
As for district, Andrews sees it once again shaping up as a three-team race among the same teams, the Lady Pirates, Aledo and Trimble Tech. Aledo, in its first season with former Andrews assistant Mike Pinkerton at the helm, returns numerous key players, as does Tech.
“We know Aledo will be a force to deal with, and Tech has tremendous athletes,” said Andrews. “But I’m going to say Granbury can be right there in the fight with them.
“It’s going to a fun, exciting season.”
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