The path seems set for the Lady Red Hawks.
With a host of talent coming in, an experienced roster returning, and several teams being reclassified, Head Coach Jeremy Baker feels confident about his teams’ ability to make a run this season.
Last year was difficult. That is no secret.
Coach Baker and his team made the most of it though.
They found a way not only to play but thrive and continue to build.
That is one thing that will benefit them this year.
“One thing we learned last year was we can play through adversity and different situations” Baker told me.
I also asked him if he felt like last year might be a blessing in disguise with the fact that so many girls had to play so many positions and gained valuable playing time.
He said without a doubt yes.
He elaborated saying “I made sure I rotated lots of players through…I kept rotating my sophomores or my freshman through…that experience those younger kids gained is going to help tremendously this year.”
I followed up asking about the incoming class.
It is not just a lot of talent and experience returning, there was a massive influx of highly capable players as well.
Both Charlotte and William James Middle School, the two schools that feed Creek Wood, made it to sectionals last season.
That meant 12+ extremely high caliber athletes coming in. Can’t keep them all and coach Baker made that clear.
“I had 26 girls try out, I probably, realistically, could have kept 20 players, 22 maybe even. I kept 19 and that is because I kept a large freshman group.”
Baker kept nine freshmen and even pointed out “I probably could have kept three or four more of those, but there are just nuances of where they gotta play, I hate having kids practice all day and never get to play.”
I respect that about coach Baker.
He would rather have 19 grade A or B players who will all see the court, than have 22 but those last 3 or 4 never get to play.
So, experience and an influx of talent will benefit the Lady Red Hawks this year.
However, the teams that won’t be around could be what propels Creek Wood further than ever this year.
While the district itself remains nearly identical, the one change is the district’s favorite Camden falls to single-A competition.
As well, beyond the district both Portland and Nolensville leave AA competition to change levels.
Nolensville is the back-to-back state champs at that level and as Baker points out “you could count on one of those three would be in the state tournament.”
It is also worth pointing out, Creek Wood defeated Portland at the regionals only to advance to the sectional and lose to Nolensville.
With all three gone, however, things look promising.
I inquired if Baker had mentioned to his team already that the window was opening.
He went on to say “I actually talked to them before summer…we lost one game of the state tournament last year, to Nolensville the eventual state champ. The teams that were in front of us are gone. I am not saying we are guaranteed to get there, nobody is. If we start working now, building on where we left off last year, we have a great chance to get to Murfreesboro.”
So imagine now. All summer. That is what these girls have thought about.
They, if they work hard enough, and show it early in the year, are a AA state favorite.
As Baker said, who knows what will happen.
Certainly though, like other programs on campus, things are looking good for the Lady Red Hawks to soar to new heights.
Hear our full interview with Coach Baker at the link below.