But the goal for the Railroaders isn’t to try to win as many games as possible and reach the playoffs every year. It’s all about improving everyday and teaching the game of basketball to girls who might not have much experience.
Coach Tony Shaw again won’t have any blue chippers to build a team around, but he does have the one thing he wants from his players.
“We’re going to play really hard. We’re going to be aggressive. That’s about all we can do,” Shaw said. “I think we have a few young girls who will play. Our goal is just to improve. We want to compete. We’ll be OK because we’re going to play hard defensively. We’re going to work hard and go after loose balls.
“The young women we have on the team I believe they want to try hard and want to do well. It’s just a matter of how long it takes them to learn what goes where and why. The sooner we can do that, the sooner we can be more competitive.”
Compared to last season, Shaw said Sparks has a little more height, but the Railroaders have about the same talent level.
The team’s success will depend on two things — breaking the press and scoring.
The problem in the past has been scoring for Sparks. The Maroon and Gold has been known to struggle with making open shots, including layups.
“Our problem is scoring and it always has been,” Shaw said. “Scoring and beating the press is a big thing because if you can’t get the ball past half court, you won’t be able to score. It’s that simple.”
Sparks had one girl receive all-league honors. Guard Gaby Diaz was an all-league honorable mention but graduated last year.
Forty-one girls came to tryout for a spot on one of the teams in the Sparks girls hoops program. Shaw was pleased with the larger-than-normal turnout.
But the Railroaders haven’t had much time to get ready for the season. However, Shaw is looking forward to the team’s first game.
Sparks opens up the season earlier than most teams. The Railroaders travel to Wooster Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. tip-off.
“Some of these girls haven’t played in high school before. Even some of the returners will get on the floor and see how the other players play hard. It will be a real eye-opener for them,” Shaw said. “I believe Wooster will be big and fast. That’s something we obviously can’t duplicate in practice.”