FRONT ROYAL – Warren County’s girls basketball team took its share of lumps and beatings last season but has good reason to feel better about the upcoming season.

The Wildcats return most of its young squad from last year and have added a few new players who could help the team.

“Things have been going good,” Warren County junior Kara Mondrone said. “We’re moving the ball a lot better than last year. I feel like we’re going to be a great team this year because we’re just really doing really good in practice.”

The Wildcats had a team with little experience last year, but coach Randy Bush said he has seen some real improvement from his players.

“(Brianna Hogan) has gotten stronger,” Bush said. “AAU helped her a lot. Others are getting more confidence in their shooting and their defense.”

Hogan was the team’s top scorer last season and the senior said she’s excited to see what this year’s team can do.

“I think we’re going to be better than last year because we’ve been working in the offseason,” Hogan said.

One of the biggest struggles that the Wildcats had last year was ball-handling, but the players said they have made some real strides in that area in the offseason and will be helped by a couple of new players to the team.

Along with Hogan and Mondrone, Mackenzi Bates, Grace Critzer and Kaylee Mondrone are also key returners to this year’s squad.

Hogan said that one other area of improvement has been the team developing more patience on the floor.

“I think we learned to just settle down a little bit and to have patience,” Hogan said. “Coach (Bush) always tells us to have patience, because we didn’t have patience last year.”

Kara Mondrone said that the new players who have moved up from the junior varsity level have blended in with the varsity players really well.

“They make us a lot better,” she said. “They have a lot of energy and they cheer us on.”

Hogan, one of three seniors, said she’s trying to be more of a leader this season for the younger players.

“It was one of my goals last year to be a leader since I was one of the oldest,” Hogan said. “And it is now (a goal) because some of them look up to me and I’ve got to be a role model.”

Bush said that he doesn’t like to set team goals, but he wants his team to be more competitive this season and he thinks they will be.

“I want them to have a more competitive spirit, which I’m seeing in practices already,” he said. “So it will be neat to see that translate over to the games from the practices.”

Warren County hosts Strasburg on Dec. 3 in the regular-season opener for both squads.

Hogan said that she thinks the Wildcats will have success this season.

“For the team, I just want to be able to win a couple games, even though it’s not about winning all of them,” Hogan said. “I want us to be able to play together as one and have good defense. I think we’re going to have a good season. I think we’re going to do pretty good.”

– Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com