There’s a noticeable difference in the gym at David City girls basketball practices. An infusion of youth has raised the energy level.
And while rookies often show up with excitement, this group of freshmen also has confidence on its side thanks to its familiarity with the program.
The extra spirit, and the added knowledge, has the team leaps and bounds ahead of where it normally is one week into practice. Everyone wearing red and black is looking forward to putting together the first winning season in four years.
“Our practices have been a lot more competitive and there’s been a lot more live play than in years past. The energy has been through the roof,” coach Nathan Wall said. “We have five freshmen who have come in, played our system through youth and junior high, and their energy level and intensity level makes the upperclassmen have to raise there’s as well.”
Wall is in his fifth season leading the David City girls. In his first season, 2014-15, the Scouts put together a 13-11 mark thanks to a senior duo who led the team with a combined scoring average of over 27 points per game.
Since then, David City has produced win totals of six, two and seven.
For the new year that begins with a road game on Nov. 29 at Utica Centennial, there’s a sense the string of sub-.500 seasons is about to come to an end.
“There hasn’t been a learning curve for (the freshmen) yet, because they already had their learning curve in junior high,” Wall said. “It was totally, totally expected. I knew they’d bring an unbelievable amount of intensity.”
Wall considers his style a sort of European way of playing basketball – creating advantages, getting into the lane then transferring the advantage to a teammate to get open shots.
His roster returns just two upperclassmen for a team that won back-to-back games just once the previous season, put together a 4-10 mark at home and a 3-5 mark on the road.
David City scored 50 points or more just seven times and went 4-3 in those contests. Wall expects more of the same this year, though in a different sense.
Because the team has more speed, its strength likely remains defensively where the Scouts can be more aggressive.
“We get up and down the floor in a hurry, and we can really get out and guard and pressure the ball,” Wall said. “We’ll be able to sprinkle in some full-court pressure here and there.
“As hard as we play, we should be able to use multiple defenses, which will help us keep our lone post player out of foul trouble. We can just really get out in passing lanes and defend well.”
Macy Svoboda, the top returning scorer at eight points per game, is back for her senior season as well as Allie Daro, sophomores Payton Andel, Natalie Blum, Maya Couch and Lauren Vandenberg.
Eli Alvarado is also out for her senior season.
Newcomers include Neely Behrns, Lili Eickmeier, Emily Johnson and Lydia Ockander.
“The ceiling for this group keeps on getting raised, I feel like, every single day,” Wall said. “We’re nowhere near as good right now as we’ll be in February, and a lot of our young kids haven’t reached their growth spurt yet, but that’s coming.”
There’s also a sense that this season is about more than just the girls on the roster.
“They’ve been through a lot of adversity as a team. They’ve been through a lot of things together,” Wall said. “They’ve been through so much adversity that they seem like they’re on such a mission for this year and the years ahead.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for the Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net