The Westside girls varsity basketball team opens the 2021-22 season in the Class A top ten. The Warriors are ranked tenth in the Omaha World Herald’s preseason high school basketball ratings.
The Warriors are coming off a 13-11 record in 2020-21. After losing their final seven consecutive regular season games, the Warriors forfeited their distinct semifinal game against Gretna with just seconds to go in overtime, officially falling 36-30. Senior Madilyn Siebler said that loss served as fuel coming into this season.
“For me personally, I see it as motivation,” Siebler said. “All of us returners know how bad that felt and it’s making us want to work harder this season.”
After the previous season, Westside only lost two seniors. All five of the starters are back for the 2021-22 season, and overall, the team hasn’t changed all that much.
“Our goals stayed the same,” said head coach Steven Clark. “Our long-term goal is to play in the state tournament and win championships. At the same time, we want to work on our chemistry and relationships. We only lost two seniors last year, so we’ve got almost everybody back plus a couple kids.”
Westside’s senior class is nine girls strong, including returning starters Siebler, Kaitlyn Hanna and Adriana DiPrima. Clark is fully prepared to take advantage of this leadership-heavy team, both on the court and off.
“The seniors are able to help the younger girls along,” Clark said. “They’ve been here before; they have experience with being in big games. They know how things are run with our culture and they know what’s expected. They’re very aware of expectations and hold each other accountable for those. The depth helps a ton at practices too, because it makes our practices competitive.”
Every season, Westside has to develop a new dynamic with a new group of girls. Every Warrior has a role to play on the team and they have to fulfill that role to the best of their ability in order to accomplish their goals.
“We’re having a lot of conversations about how to come together and be a team,” Siebler said. “We have a lot of leadership personalities, but we need to all come together and accept our different roles on the team, whatever they may be. We’re talking about it a lot and trying to navigate that. It’s still early, so we’ve got time. The key is being all in and being committed to each other.”
After three consecutive trips to the state tournament between 2018-2020, the Warriors hope to return to Lincoln and make a run at the Class A state title.
“We’re hoping to use our depth,” Clark said. “We want to play faster. If we play faster, then we get more people going and we’re more fresh on the court.”
The Warriors tip off the season on Thursday, Dec. 2 when they host the Columbus Discoverers at 5:30 p.m.t. The game will be streamed on WTV Live and here on Westside Wired.