Roundball Heaven: Enthusiasm Returns For Lady Warriors, Coach Major

On the ladder of success at LaGrange Academy, girls basketball is near the top.

“Basketball is one of our big sports,” said Lady Warriors junior forward Felicity Liechty. “We can play and finish at the rim. We’re aggressive on defense, and we’re trying to get into shape.”

The LaGrange Academy girls will be doing a lot of running, jumping, defending, embracing and breathing hard this season. At the very least, all of that is expected of them by head coach Mel Major, who is looking to improve on last year’s 11-13 Lady Warrior record.

At LaGrange Academy the Lady Warriors are supposed to win in basketball. More or less it has become a school trademark. But so is diving for the ball, running the floor and giving your final breath for the team.

“We know we have to step up. We have a lot of potential, and we like having fun. We have some pretty good shooters, and we’re working on the little things. We’re working on layups,” said Sydney Anderson, the Lady Warriors 5-foot-2 junior guard.

Before LaGrange Academy faces Griffin Christian in the Lady Warriors season-opener at home on Tuesday, Nov. 14 (at 6 p.m.), Anderson and the rest of the team will have sweated out 12 preseason workouts. Coach Mel Major knows how to get his girls ready for a sticky and challenging schedule. The coach is hard to please, but he has seen some progress in the Lady Warriors first four practices of the preseason. There’s a lot of teaching, sprinting and rebounding going on in the refurbished LaGrange Academy gym. “We’re hustling and pushing each other. The sky is the limit. We will be competitive. I question our shooting and ball handling. But we’re scrappy. We are working on fundamentals. I’m trying to get the girls from point A to point B,” said Major. “The girls are working together.”

The LaGrange Academy team does have talent, including some young potential contributors with eighth grade guard Sydney Edelson and eighth grade forward Kelsey Cotton. The 5foot-9 Cotton can handle the ball in transition. She has some jets underneath her basketball shoes.

Edelson will see some varsity time, too. She is another ball handler that this Lady Warrior team desperately needs. And Edelson has a developing jump shot.

“We need some offensive precision, but I am encouraged,” said Major. “We are returning a couple of starters – (sophomore center) Ashlee Mains and Felicity (Liechty). Ashlee is a rebounder. She brings leadership and athleticism.”

Ruthie Kelsey, a 5-foot-8 junior forward, might also work her way into the Lady Warriors starting lineup. Kelsey has experience, on-the-floor composure and a knack for making meaningful plays.

Kelsey is also a team player. She puts her team above her game statistics – scoring or rebounding.

“We’re going to be okay. We’ve been working on defense and our shooting form. We are maturing, and we have some skills. We have improved since last year,” said Kelsey.

Coach Mel Major is glad to see that enthusiasm and confidence from Kelsey and the other Lady Warriors. This just might be a great season for La-Grange Academy basketball, and it wouldn’t be the first in school history.