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Youthful Wildcats learning as they go

Warren County's Gabby Turner (14) puts up a shot
Warren County's Gabby Turner (14) puts up a shot over Strasburg's Jaclyn Ayers in a Dec. 4 game. Dennis Grundman/Daily file (Buy photo)

By Brian Eller - beller@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL - In his two seasons at Warren County, girls basketball coach John Kelly has led two different teams.

Last year, he was fortunate to inherit a team that was heavy with experience. This season he has to start four freshmen and sophomores. But ask Kelly which squad he'd rather coach, and he won't hesitate to answer.

"It's fantastic [coaching the younger team]," Kelly said. "Last year we had a lot of seniors on the team and at times they weren't very competitive. This year it's really fun to coach these girls and be able to look back a few years from now and see the progress."

So far this season, the Wildcats are still battling their inexperience and searching for their first win. But that doesn't bother Kelly. Instead, Kelly is focusing on helping his players develop their skills, and realizes that mistakes are to be expected right now.

"I expect a lot of mistakes, but I expect the girls to learn from their mistakes," Kelly said. "We're super young. Our biggest trial is inexperience. We're learning to play through a lot of young mistakes."

In the midst of a winless season so far, two freshmen have emerged as leaders for the Wildcats. Forward Alyson Fox has been improving her skills as a rebounder in the post, while fellow first-year player Brianna Caison is the team's leading scorer this season, notching a team-high eight points in an earlier season loss to Central.

"Alyson Fox, she's been really good for us on the boards and typically you don't see that out of someone so young," Kelly said. "Our top scorer is Brianna Caison. She's extremely athletic, very good with her court sense. She can find the open hole and is a pretty good outside shooter, too."

Kelly said the team's biggest problem so far is closing out games. In the Wildcats' six games this season, they have yet to finish within single digits of the opponent, despite holding the leads in a couple of those games.

"This is the stuff you've gotta take," Kelly said. "The first couple of games we were playing 16 minutes of really solid basketball. I think in a few games we headed into halftime with the lead. We just need to learn how to play 32 minutes of good basketball. But we're getting there."


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