2019-2020 High School Girls’ Basketball Preview – Independence Patriots

Braylan Milton scoring a basket for Lady Patriots. (Ron Morris)

Head Coach – Lauren Lewis

1. How does the team look for the upcoming 2019-2020 season?

So far, so good. We have a good core of returning varsity players, along with some new additions to the team. We’re still getting comfortable playing with each other, so I’m hoping we peak at the right time during the season.

2. How would you rank the team in the Southwestern 4A conference?

We will be able to compete with teams better than we ever have before- I think we will finish top 4 in the conference.

3. What are your realistic expectations this season?

Independence Girls basketball hasn’t been to the playoffs in over 10 years, so our main goal is to make it to the playoffs. We want to finish top 4 in the conference and make it to the playoffs—both goals are very realistic.

4. Who are your starting five as of today?

Braylynn Milton 2021, Trinity Thompson 2020, Gracie Breckenridge 2021, Ayanna Anderson 2020, and Laura Flynn 2020.

5. What are your team strengths?

Strengths of our team will be our size. Once we become disciplined enough to box out and rebound consistently every time down the floor, I think we will be true competitors in a tough conference. Also, our guard play is as strong as it’s been since I have been coaching at Independence. Braylynn Milton, 5’11” guard, will now have some help bringing the ball up the floor with Trinity Thompson, 2020, and Averie DiBenedetto, 2021. All three guards are proven scorers, smart with the ball, and can create shots not only for themselves, but for others.

I’m also all about building strong relationships. I think we do a good job of balancing being hard on our players by holding them accountable on and off the floor, but also being able to relate to them in a way to where they completely trust us and can come to us about anything. I’m a competitor, so I think we are constantly pushing our girls out of their comfort zones and wanting them to want to achieve more for themselves.

6. What areas will need improvement?

Our transition game on both ends of the floor could always be better. Our flow on offense gets a bit slow at times.

7. How is your bench strength?

Who do you expect to make a contribution off the bench? When it comes to our bench, our post players have a good amount of experience and will be able to contribute immediately. As for our guards—they are young, but can be coached and know they are our future, they will be pushed into role positions this year and hopefully, by the end of the season, they will have the experience to have a positive impact on the game. The Barrino sisters will grab a good amount of minutes and play a huge role in our rebounding and defensive game. Averie DiBenedetto, a crafty and smart point guard, will also look to grab major minutes.

8. What are the most important character-building qualities to teach your players?

Being respectful, being loyal, and being self-disciplined.

9. Each team is different, how can you motivate your players on this team?

Motivating the team this year will be easy enough; we have six seniors on the team, this will be their last season playing high school basketball, last year playing together, we have missed the playoffs for the past two years by one or two games, this is all the motivation we need!

10. How can you improve teamwork and the attitudes of each player?

With the way we do our preseason (workouts, skill development, conditioning, and weights) every day after school for the months of August/September/October, early on, the girls know the expectations and standards we have set for the Independence Girls’ Basketball team. Certain leaders/players in the program have done a great job of holding the underclassmen accountable and making sure they show up, work hard, and have a positive attitude.