Lady Bulldogs show tremendous strides

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 18, 2016

The basketball season didn’t last as long as the Andalusia Lady Bulldogs would have hoped, but head coach Brad Garner was extremely pleased with the strides and growth made by his team.

Merikal McCaskill (12) and Kimberly Landrum (22) celebrate the Lady Bulldogs' victory over Ashford in the Class 4A, Area 2 tournament.

Merikal McCaskill (12) and Kimberly Landrum (22) celebrate the Lady Bulldogs’ victory over Ashford in the Class 4A, Area 2 tournament.

“It was heartbreaking for the girls and for me,” Garner said of the Lady Bulldogs’ season ending loss Tuesday night. “I told them the reason that it hurts like it does was because they had more expectations out of themselves. When you start believing in yourself and expecting to win, good things start to happen.”

After falling below .500 to start the season, the Lady Bulldogs picked up a win in the Straughn Christmas Tournament that sparked a turnaround.

“After winning in the Straughn tournament, we picked it up a little and won three or so games in a row,” Garner said. “We went over .500 and stayed that way for the rest of the season.”

Garner said the most impressive part of the Lady Bulldogs’ success was their ability to overcome struggles during the season.

“We had a big win against a much bigger Dothan team and things seemed to be going great, and then we lose our starting point guard for the season with a torn ACL,” Garner said. “I had to move Shay Thomas over to point and she had never played it before, and she was our leading scorer so I had to find a way to give her scoring opportunities from the point. She did an incredible job stepping in. We had a few other injuries as well that forced us to figure out ways to win with different people in.”

Garner credited his three seniors Shay Thomas, Merikal McCaskill and Kimberly Landrum with a lot of the success for the Lady Bulldogs.

“My three seniors were exceptional,” Garner said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with how a group of seniors handled a season. I’m extremely pleased of the things they provided to this team.”

Garner said the biggest thing he saw from his team this year was a change in mentality.

“We entered this last part of the season with expectations and not just a hope to win,” Garner said. “We played that way last night. We expected to win, and that has been the biggest thing.”

It wasn’t how they wanted it to end, but Garner said the team must continue to stride to get better.

“It’s a process,” Garner said. “Most teams don’t just all of the sudden have a state championship season, it takes a lot of work and took a step in that direction this year. We just have to continue to improve.