Huckabay girls head basketball coach Caleb Walls is looking forward to the day his team benefits from being in so many close games.
After dropping a handful of district contests in the closing minutes or overtime last year, the Lady Indians missed the playoffs despite their winning record of 18-11.
The same problems struck again Tuesday when they opened their season by allowing an 11-point second-half lead slip away in a 55-53 loss at Gordon.
"It was one of those where we led the whole way and lost it in the end," Walls said. "We didn't take care of the ball and coughed it up too many times. Turnovers played a big role. That's what hurt us the most."
There were positives for the Lady Indians, especially in the scoring department, where three players were in double figures.
Maggie Weiss led the way with 15 while Jamie Martinez netted 14 and Camille Copeland added 13.
"I'm expecting us to be balanced like that all year and never having just one true leading scorer," said Walls.
He had hoped to get more offensive production from Kyla Stewart, but she was limited due to foul trouble and played only sparingly in the second half.
Stewart and Martinez are returning starters for the Lady Indians, who have three other letterwinners back including Weiss and Martinez.
Weiss primarily filled the sixth-player role for the Lady Indians last season, but also started a number of games. All five returnees started at some point last season.
For the most part, Huckabay is a young team.
"We're a young group with just two seniors," Walls said. "Right now it's just a learning experience, but we should be ready by district. This is a fun, hardworking group of girls. They put forth their best effort every day no matter what and I can see a ton of improvement each week. That's what we want most at this point."
Walls says it's only a matter of time until the Lady Indians begin to turn hard-fought losses into wins. When they just missed the playoffs last year, it was largely because of a pair of agonizing overtime losses to Strawn, a team they beat convincingly in an early-season tournament.
"I think the experience of last year and being in all those battles right down to the end is only going to make them better and stronger this year," Walls said.