While the squad’s record so far this season isn’t anything to write home about, there is a lot to be encouraged about with regard to the Houston High School girls basketball team, and I believe the Lady Tigers are in the early stages of writing what will ultimately be a very interesting and enjoyable story.
The fact that the Lady Tigers are extremely young has been well publicized. Fourth-year head coach Jim Moore has zero seniors and only two juniors to work with on his varsity roster, and regularly rolls out a starting lineup featuring a sophomore and three freshmen. Heck, a time or two he has even started four freshmen.
But that’s where the intrigue begins.
Without using any players’ names, let me describe what I see going on with Moore and Co.
There is a whole lot of raw talent on this team. So much that I think Moore will list depth as a strong point in the not-too-distant future.
It’s remarkable, really; I mean, you see 14 and 15-year-olds flying around the court and making plays you would think only a girl at least two years older might be capable of making. But then moments later, something negative happens that reminds you of their youth.
But again, that youth factor is the primary aspect of the story. As Moore has said, the more these girls get into pressure-packed situations, the more they lead by double-digits on someone else’s court, and the more they play high school basketball in competitive environments, the more they’ll learn how to do it all in a winning style.
It’s a matter of learning the game and recognizing what to do (or not to do) in a given moment. And you know, if last week’s down-to-the-wire donnybrook at Cabool is any indication, there are girls wearing HHS basketball uniforms who are doing just that.
But on top of grasping the second-by-second procedure of how to win, it’s also important that this group learns what it means and what it’s like to be a team. I know that might sound a bit shallow or clichéd, but it’s a reality of any team-oriented sport. The only way to create success, achieve goals or let’s face it, win, is for players to respect each other, enjoy each other’s company and find ways to interact on the court as a unit rather than a gathering of individuals. Here’s the good news regarding the Lady Tigers: Moore says he has seen huge strides in this area and perceives a locker room that’s closer now than ever, and girls acting as teammates better now than since this group first came together prior to the 2019-2020 season.
But, of course, in basketball the team that scores the most points wins (fundamental, yes, but 100-percent true). That’s an area that also needs a bit of attention, as the Lady Tigers seem to be in need of finding more scoring options.
As Moore has also said, that should come with time. I think he’s right, and it comes down to some of that raw talent accumulating more experience and becoming more confident when there’s an open shot.
Obviously, getting an open shot means having possession of the ball, and the Lady Tigers are in the process of realizing that. Basically, they need to keep the ball when they have it until a shot goes up, rather than too often allowing the opposition to have it before that.
But that kind of ball protection can come with time, too, and being well aware of that, Moore makes it a point of emphasis whenever necessary.
And oh yeah, the Lady Tigers need to make more free throws. On multiple occasions this season, their percentage at the line has been less than acceptable, and missed fouls shots have probably even cost them a couple of victories.
But with repetition, that’s a shortcoming that could well be turned around. I sure hope that’s what happens, because at any level of hoops, scoring points without the burden of defense is always a good thing.
While there’s also room for improvement defensively, I believe the Lady Tigers are already in pretty good shape on that end of the floor. Sure, they overcommit now and then and sometimes reach when they don’t need to, but they collectively do a nice job of making the opposing teams work hard to score points.
And as far as rebounding, I think Houston does pretty well with that, too, especially considering the height disadvantage they often face.
As a friend of mine who’s close to the situation has said, not every team with a bunch of promising young players ends up being good. That can be true for a variety of reasons when it comes to a high school squad, like key players moving away or losing interest, or players simply not improving as they age.
Along those lines, Moore has communicated to me that he hopes HHS fans won’t become impatient and allow the Lady Tigers to grow and develop, even if that means making mistakes and absorbing a bunch of losses during the process. Moore has also indicated he truly believes the future is bright for his team. Having spent a fair amount of time around these girls now, my honest opinion is that I do, too, and I foresee this current version of the Lady Tigers improving with age and eventually becoming a force to be reckoned with (maybe sooner than later).
With that in mind, I sincerely look forward to watching this story play out. I have a feeling it’s going to be special.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.