Perfect Season is the Sixth Championship in Eight Seasons for Dominant Program
By: Garrett Mitchell, Staff Writer
The Woodruff Middle School Girls’ Basketball program has known nothing but success for much of the past decade, and this season added yet another championship to a trophy case close to overflowing with hardware.
The Middle School Lady Wolverines finished a perfect 13-0 season with a 55-21 victory over Cowpens in the Foothills Conference tournament championship game. It was their eighth consecutive trip to the conference tournament championship game and the sixth title for the program in that span.
Head Coach Daniel Addis points to experience and leadership as the driving force behind the success of this year’s team.
“I think what made this team so special was their experience and their unselfish play,” said Addis. “Most of these eighth graders have played together since fourth or fifth grade so they know each other and trust each other on the court. Also, as seventh graders, two of them were starters and two more were in the rotation so they got a lot of game experience last year. This team as a whole really understood the meaning of playing as a team. Everyone had a role, and they took their role seriously. They didn’t care who scored the points, they just wanted to win. And they did.”
Two standouts on the court were eighth-grader Sadie Burnette and seventh-grader Rihanna Wallace. Burnett led the team in points and is a superb three-point shooter while Wallace, who transferred to Woodruff from Gable Middle School, played the point guard position.
“It felt good to win because we lost the championship last year in a close game,” said Burnette. “We didn’t know at the beginning of the season how good we would be, but winning all of our games felt good.”
Wallace admitted being a bit nervous about joining a new team, but quickly fit right in with her teammates to help form the core of a championship squad.
“I was a bit scared at first,” she said. “But it feels good to win (the championship). “I have great teammates. I was able to get them the ball, and they were able to score.”
And the Middle School Lady Wolverines scored in bunches. While most middle school games tend to be low scoring, Woodruff put up points in bunches, eclipsing the 50-point mark on multiple occasions. Woodruff also shot the three-pointer well, a skill not often seen consistently at the middle school level. It was that and more that made his team so lethal, explained Addis.
“Speed,” he said. “This team was fast, and we made sure we played fast. Kara West and Rihanna Wallace are fast as lightning with the ball. Most of our points came in transition. Whether it was a steal turned into a layup or a defensive rebound we made sure we ran the floor in transition and most teams just couldn’t keep up. It also helps when you have a player that can shoot it like Sadie Burnette.”
Burnette will move on to Woodruff High School next year to join her sister Alli, already a member of the Lady Wolverines’ Varsity team. Wallace could potentially join her as well and team up with fellow seventh-grader Jensyn Turner who already played her first varsity season this year.
No matter who returns for Coach Addis and the Middle School Lady Wolverines, the recipe for success that has been established should once again produce a contending team.
“I think we’ve done a very good job of getting girls involved in the game at an early age,” Addis said. “From our Girls’ Basketball Club at Woodruff Elementary School to our STRIVE girls’ basketball teams that played at Dorman, to our STRIVE Girls’ Basketball League that we were able to do last year, we have been able to introduce girls to basketball before they get to middle school. A lot of times girls that play for me already have 2-3 years of basketball experience. All the work we put in before they get to seventh grade has been paying off.”