Peabody's Gabby Gray shoots at practice Thursday. The 5-foot-6 junior small forward leads Peabody in scoring with around 20 points per game. / Tia Owens-Powersemail@example.com
But the Peabody Lady Warhorses aren’t thinking about 2014-15 just yet. They’re hoping to make the most of this season.
Burks’ young squad, which features just two seniors, has exceeded his early expectations. The Lady Warhorses are 15-8 on the season and 3-1 in District 3-4A after losing to district leader DeRidder on Tuesday night. They’re ranked 13th in this week’s unofficial LHSAA power ratings, courtesy in large part to what Burks said was a “rough schedule” the featured several close calls.
Peabody lost by six points to Class 5A Byrd, by five to Rapides and by three in overtime to St. Michael. The Lady Warhorses also have twice been blown out by Pineville, games that Burks said were eye-opening experiences for his young players.
“They are learning how to win close ones,” he said, “because we’ve had three or four close games. They are learning from those games.”
They also learned from Tuesday’s 60-44 loss against DeRidder, a game in which Burks said early foul trouble hampered his team along with missed layups and free throws.
“We just missed way too many under the goal,” he said.
“We just have to practice harder, practice on the things we didn’t do (Tuesday) night,” said junior Gabby Gray, who leads Peabody in scoring with around 20 points per game.
Gray, a 5-foot-6 junior small forward, is Peabody’s shooting and scoring specialist. Burks said she’s one of the best pure shooters he’s seen, and he stopped practice to have her demonstrate her form. (Gray promptly swished the 3-point attempt.)
Junior point guard Asia Dorsey, who Burks said is “about 4-7,” is learning to play the position and run the team. Other key players are sophomore Shanekra Laneheart (16 ppg), junior Chelsea Wright (12 ppg, 10 rpg) and sophomore Demetrion “Big Girl” Jones, who Burks said is still learning to play in the post but has loads of potential.
“Next year they’ll be better, and we think next year is gonna be our year because we’ve got all this experience,” Burks said.
“I think we can still do it,” Gray said.
Gray said when she arrived at Peabody two years ago she couldn’t shoot a lick. But she’s worked hard over the past two years at improving her jumper, and now she says her role on the team is to find an open look and shoot it.
Burks said more of the Lady Warhorses need to understand their roles on the team, which despite playing 23 games is “still trying to find (its) identity,” he said.
Gray and Jones both got in early foul trouble against DeRidder, the Lady Warhorses gave up too many easy layups and they didn’t take advantage of their own chances, Burks said. Still, they’ve learned from that loss and believe they’ve gotten better.
“We’re starting to work together more as a team,” Gray said.
Peabody has had some talented teams under Burks, including squads that made it to the Ladies Top 28. While this year’s version may not be as good of a team as some of those past versions, Burks said there are things that make this unit special.
“There are more athletes on this team,” he said. “They are more athletic as a group.”