Christoval Coach's 300th Win Just the Beginning of Lady Cougars' Big Plans
CHRISTOVAL, TX-- After the final buzzer sounded over Christoval’s 62-14 rout of Ozona on Tuesday, it seemed like just another win to the Lady Cougars. They didn’t realize the achievement that happened there at Ozona’s gym.
Head coach Scott Richardson, their fourth year head coach, had just notched his 300th career win. They didn’t realize it until later that night. It was made that much more special that he got win no. 300 with the first freshman class he has coached all the way through to their senior year.
“We were really excited for him,” senior forward Kayce Jackson said. “We had no idea that we were the team to get that for him. I think it’s really special for him and us because we’re a special team this year.”
Tuesday’s win soaked Richardson’s head with memories from a coaching career nearing two decades. Some good, some great.
“Winning 300 games is special because you think back to all the great players you got to coach, all the great coaches you got to coach with and it just floods you with great memories,” Richardson said.
However, that achievement isn’t beginning to scratch the surface on the goals the Lady Cougars have in mind this season. They want to get back to the regional tournament for the first time since 2016, Richardson’s first year at Christoval.
Last year, with only three seniors and a slew of underclassmen, Christoval fought their way to the regional quarterfinals where they eventually lost to Sundown.
“[The expectations] are pretty high,” sophomore shooting guard Graci Jones said. “We’re basically the same team from last year. So, we’re expected to go further now.”
With the large returning group of 10 players back from that team and the Lady Cougars off to a flying start in district play, it’s not out of reason to think they have a shot at getting to the Texan Dome in Levelland, the regional tournament site for Class 2A Region I.
Why is that? This year’s group is willing to do whatever it takes for the good of the team, Richardson says. Part of that is what has been the right mix of senior leadership and youthful enthusiasm. The Lady Cougars have four seniors listed on their roster to go with eight underclassmen, six of which are returning sophomores from last year’s team.
“We have a good mix because our seniors are willing to mentor our young kids and we have young kids who are willing to listen,” Richardson said. “That’s not always the case. So, what makes that special is the ability for both sides to swallow their pride or push themselves aside and think about what’s best for the team. We have a really neat mix of girls that they like each other, number one, but number two, they listen to each other and they love each other.
“Our girls are so open to the idea that they’re gonna try anything to win for the team. So, this season they’ve really bought into the idea that we’re gonna try some things based on what our strengths and weaknesses are. Some of [the ideas] have failed and they’ve been completely ok with the idea of pushing those aside until we found what works. And we’ve found those things that work for us. So, that’s been fun to watch them grow through some growing pains.”
Christoval’s rise over the last few years can be attributed to Richardson’s system and the growth it gives his players.
“I think he’s done a really good job of just building a team aspect,” Jackson regarded. “We grow together really well and he’s taken that really seriously. He’s more about banding together and working together as a team. He’s worried about how we are as people rather than just winning basketball games. He’s more about the team aspect.”
That emphasis on team play has led to depth for Christoval, a small school of 161 students at UIL's 2018 realignment. For example, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a set that eventually puts the ball in the hands of 5-foot-11 Jackson at the top of the key. Having that depth and ability to rotate around is crucial for Richardson’s Lady Cougars.
“Our bench is great,” Richardson emphasized. “That’s huge for us, because they can come off at any time and execute what we’re trying to do. For a successful basketball team, you have to have that and we’re lucky to have one of those.”
The Lady Cougars have made the playoffs in each of Richardson’s first three years. Christoval has also not missed the playoffs since 2012. They don’t plan on breaking that streak anytime soon.
If you ask Jones, she’ll tell you the Lady Cougars’ confidence level is at “an eight or a nine” sitting on a 14-10 record and three-game winning streak, including two lopsided wins in District 7-2A.
“We’re pretty confident right now because we’ve worked hard and we deserve it,” Jones continued.
That confidence is well warranted in Richardson’s eyes. The girls do deserve that level of confidence.
“They feel really good about themselves and they should,” Richardson praised. “They’re playing well, they’re working hard every day, they’ve bought into that process. So, their confidence comes from who they are every single day. It’s starting to come out on the court and that’s been really fun to watch for them.”
Christoval (14-10, 2-0) will look to keep that momentum going at home against Miles this Friday, Jan. 11.