It appears that getting beat soundly in the annual Baytown Gander Tip-Off was a formula for success after the trip into east Harris County, because the Wharton Lady Tigers have not lost since.
Losing to bigger schools at Baytown Lee High School and against teams that Wharton wouldn’t normally have competed against paved the way for a four-game winning streak.
Yes, WHS did those to the likes of South San (San Antonio), 80-32, George Ranch, 61-33, and Pasadena, 54-35.
But, their last game against another big school in Santa Fe came in the form of a 57-31 victory. There are a lot of returners from last year’s playoff-qualifying team. When the two played twice, they went 1-1, but all the games were close.
That didn’t happen this year.
“Our main focus is to take care of business,” WHS coach Ratysha Hardy said. “Get the job done on and off the court. Going harder in practices so that we can have successful outcomes.”
The difference in the style of play that the Lady Tigers exhibit on the court is obvious and it has everything to do with Hardy, who is in her first year leading the program after being an assistant under coach Terry Gray.
Both Grady and Hardy have connections to Baytown, which is part of the reason WHS has entered the tournament for several years.
But Hardy’s tenure under Gray goes back even further.
“Most people don’t know this but Coach Gray was my high school coach back in Midland,” Hardy said. “Coach Gray has been my mentor since I was in junior high school. I’ve learned so much from him with being coached by him and working with him. I’ve adapted a lot of his ways but added my style to it.”
Now eight games in and with her style added to the Lady Tigers’ talents, Hardy’s bunch is 5-3.
The last three wins came against Northside, Ganado and Santa Fe. J’Kayla Davis has usually led the team in scoring, but teammates like Justaisha Holmes, Courtney Coleman, Jaydynn Kemper have scored in double digits. Dreana Barrow is also contributing nicely.
When asked how she keep this talented bunch of Lady Tigers humbled, ready to play, and take in the practices, Hardy responded by saying, “I remind them all the time with what they have been blessed, with talent and skills to play the game. I let them know that when much is given, much is expected. However; when they don’t show gratitude and respect for that blessing, it can be taken away. The moment egos and arrogance take precedence is the first day of their downfall.”