West Stanly women claim RRC regular-season title

Published 4:26 pm Monday, February 19, 2024

The West Stanly women’s basketball team finished the 2023 part of this season with a 3-8 record, with a tough non-conference schedule including Albemarle, North Stanly, Charlotte Latin and three losses in the Mount Pleasant Holiday Classic.

However, the Colts came together as the conference schedule unfolded to win 10 of the team’s last 13 games, with one non-conference loss among the stretch, to win the school’s first conference regular-season title since 2018.

West Stanly (13-11, 10-2 RRC) has one more regular-season conference game but clinched the title, leading Parkwood by two games.

Head coach Chad Horn said the team “really came together” over the Christmas break, saying the team “built some unity.”

“I told my assistant (coach) that things were different, the way they hung out and talked, worked for each other,” Horn said.

West’s coach said the team’s schedule was loaded at the front end “where we played a lot of tough competition and that makes you better…it really teaches you a lot about yourself as a team. It pushed us to get a lot better.”

West’s roster is young this season, with two seniors leading the way. One, Taylor Whitley, missed most of the season early because of injury, but Horn said she “is working her way back in.”

Whitley said West plays more like a family than a team and “started wanting to win for each other rather than playing for ourselves. After I got hurt, (the players) came together and worked their butts off.”

The other senior, Lily Hartsell, has been part of the school’s state championship-winning softball team. She said West “has a really big target on our shoulder” in conference play this season because the Colts had not won a conference title.

Hartsell said she and Whitley came together with the younger players and said to themselves, “We’re going to fix this. We’re not going to be losers. We want to win.”

She said the team has depth and players coming off the bench “are going to come in and do their job every single time. That’s really important to the starters.”

Sophomore Kennedy Foxx said her fellow classmates on the team have played travel ball together extensively. “We’ve always had that kind of connection where we could just automatically play together.”

Horn said West is young but really quick. “We don’t have a ton of size, but we have a ton of speed. Defensively, we put a lot of pressure on the ball.”

Junior Grayson Howell said this season’s success was a team effort, adding, the Colts “definitely make sure we have included everybody and everything.”

Horn said West “is really defensively sound. We kind of have everything on offense. We can play outside and inside; we can stretch you out or jam the middle.”

Whitley said winning the regular-season title is motivation for the conference tournament this week. The Colts have not won a women’s basketball conference tournament since 2006.

“We all want to win it,” Howell said.

The Colts will also be in the 2A Western Region of the state playoffs next week.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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