The Wildcats took on Division 1 Brattleboro in a scrimmage on Tuesday night, experiencing a team Hayford says is tougher than any opponent they’ll face this year, and discovering they have all of the pieces they need for a successful season.
Of course, how best to deploy those pieces is still a question for Hayford.
“I have to figure out what will work best every night,” the coach explained. “That was what the scrimmage was all about, trying out different defensive sets and finding out where our offensive production will come from.
“The good news is we won’t see a team that gets in your grill like Brattleboro until maybe the tournament,” Hayford said.
Returning senior Tayler Courchesne can “really fill up the stat sheet,” according to Hayford, and Twin Valley will again rely heavily on her production. But the Wildcats will need a few more players to step up on the offensive, perhaps fellow returning seniors Tatyana Bowman and Leah Putnam down on the blocks. Out on the perimeter, juniors Jarrett Niles and Morgen Janovsky will need to keep the defense honest with solid outside shooting.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that a couple of these girls will really step up and provide some points.”
Junior Maria Page will handle the bulk of the duties at point guard but the position gets a little thin behind her. “A lot of our success at the guard position may ride on Maria’s shoulders, and I fully expect her to mature in the role as the season progresses,” Hayford said.
Fortunately the coach has some talented freshmen, who are still getting used to the varsity level but have already shown great promise — Kylie Reed, Sadie Boyd, and Jayden Crawford. The Wildcats have just one other lower classman in sophomore Celia Betit. “They’re all clearly going to get thrown into the fire before they’re ready,” Hayford said. “But they have great energy and a commitment to keep improving.”
In fact, improvement from throughout the whole roster is what Hayford is counting on. When a coach has a host of good athletes with competitiveness and determination, sometimes it’s best simply to let them play. As such, Hayford explained that he’s more focused on the process than the product.
“If we can go out every night, work hard, have fun, and keep fighting till the final horn, then the wins will take care of themselves,” he said.
The process begins in earnest next week when the Wildcats travel to play Mid-Vermont Christian at 5:30 pm Tuesday, December 12, in Quechee.
“It won’t be easy right out of the gate, and the next three games before Christmas are equally tough,” Hayford said. “But we have plenty of work to do between now and then, and hopefully a win will set the tone for the season.”