Last year, Rockdale County High School's Lady Dawgs finished the region tied for second, but took third as the result of a coin toss. The team eventually suffered a tough loss in the third place region game against Alcovy 42-38.
On a team that has just four seniors and young but inexperienced talent, Lady Bulldogs' head coach Gladys King has her work cut out. King has been preaching fundamentals and discipline to her team, and more importantly, playing within the system.
The team returns three starters from last year and the rest are players brought up from JV and middle school.
"We're kind of young," King said. "My thing is just work on the fundamentals and the confidence level to build those girls and get them strong to get them where they need to be as a young team. Some of the ones that are returning, I want them to come out and play their role and we can get back to being at the top of the region. I don't have doubt that we can't, but I feel that we can work hard to get there."
Kings says that the team has a defense-first approach toward this season, which is evident in their practices. Watching the Lady Dawgs practice against the ninth grade boys, you can see that playing against the guys adds a level of aggression and physicality to the way the girls play.
In practice the girls go after the boys and pressure the ball. They forced multiple turnovers in the scrimmage by pressuring the ball and knowing where to be when trapping a ball handler.
With the way Rockdale plans to pressure the ball, they also need to be able to dribble/pass outside of pressure/traps. They worked on both in their simulation against the ninth grade boys.
"We've been working on a lot of ball handling. We've been working on a lot of defense. As we all know, defense wins games. We've been working on our defense a lot and different defenses - press (defense) and things like that. Defense has been the key," King said.
Rockdale travels to open its season against Green Forest Christian on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.