MONTICELLO, Ga. — It has been an up and down season for the Piedmont Academy girls basketball team so far.
This season has also come with its fair share of challenges so far, too.
Currently, the Lady Cougars are 7-5 overall and haven’t played a region game yet. Despite being without their star player in Marissa Holder, head coach Michael Wilson is still confident about where his team is.
“I think we are in a good spot,” Wilson said. “It’s so tough when a player like Marissa is out for many reasons. You’ve got girls playing positions they are unfamiliar with so you find them thinking on the court instead of playing and that disrupts the ball movement.”
Holder has been the leader all season for the Lady Cougars. She’s filled the stat book by averaging a double-double with 26.2 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Holder also leads her team in assists (3.7), steals (4.2) blocks (1.6) and free throw percentage (87%). But the Lady Cougars have been without their sophomore star for the past few games due to an injury and have been seeking offense from other players.
More than that, Wilson highlighted his biggest concern — one that trumps X’s and O’s.
“The biggest issue, I believe, is from a confidence and comfort issue,” Wilson said. “All the girls are good players. They’ve all hit big shots when we need them to do. But typically it is all facilitated from Marissa because she’s our primary ball handler. When we’ve struggled offensively these past few games, we kind of look like a ship without its rudder. We are sound, but we just are trying to figure out how to get to where we need to be.”
Teagan Satterfield is the next highest contributor averaging nine points and 3.6 assists per contest. Jacie Jenkins is second on the team in rebounds (6.4) and steals (2.2).
While on the offensive search, Piedmont has lost three of its last four games. That skid was preceded by a six-game winning streak.
Piedmont has defeated teams such as Windsor Academy, Loganville Christian Academy (LCA), Trinity Christian (twice), Central Fellowship Christian Academy, Robert Toombs Christian Academy and Edmund Burke Academy.
The Lady Cougars’ average margin of victory is 23 points. However, their average margin of defeat is much more slim.
In four of the five losses this season, Piedmont Academy lost by seven or fewer points. The outlier was its fifth loss on Tuesday, losing 59-17 against Lake Oconee Academy — a team that is 14-1 and are the defending GHSA Class A-Public State Champions.
Good news for the Lady Cougars is, according to head coach Michael Wilson, Holder is expected to return before their region schedule tips off on Jan. 24 versus Gatewood.
But Holder is anxious to get back on the court.
“She’s a competitor, she hates sitting and watching because she knows she can help her friends,” Wilson said. “She’s been an asset to us even without playing. Sitting on the bench and cheering and helping the girls see things that normally they miss. I can’t say enough about that. When a team’s most talented player is vested in everyone’s success it helps to make a special team.”
In the meantime, Piedmont Academy hits the road for the next few games. It faces LCA on Saturday followed by a matchup at Windsor Academy on Jan. 16. Then, the Lady Cougars return home on Jan. 20 to face Briarwood Academy.
Wilson believes that, moving forward, this group of players has the potential to do great things.
“When we get back to 100%, I think this team can go and have a chance to play for a championship,” Wilson said.
“We were starting to click offensively but more importantly our defense was really turning the corner. This roster is full of girls who can score and sometimes we rely on that ability but I think the mindset of the team has really embraced the importance of playing great defense. If we keep that up we are a Final Four team in our classification regardless of who is on the court and I believe with that mindset, when Marissa comes back, we will be difficult to beat.”