WEST JEFFERSON — Coming off of a 13-12 season where they went 9-5 in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference, the Ashe County Huskies girls basketball team wants to improve this season, but head coach Brianna Ashley says it is about taking it one step at a time.

Something the team has to deal with right off the bat is a combination of youth and the loss of experienced players. Last season’s senior class included Sam Woods, Abby Sullivan and Emma Shepherd, all of whom were team captains. Woods in particular is a loss, being the team’s second-leading scorer, a primary ball handler and one of the better defenders in the squad.

“I’m not looking for any one person to replace Sam, because I don’t think one person can,” Ashley said. “Certain girls are going to have to step up and replace her in certain ways.”

One example is the combination of Kenadie Hudler and Woods’ sister, Katie, who will share time at the point guard position, Ashley said. While Sam Woods and Sullivan were both starters, Hudler started multiple games, leading Ashley to say the team is essentially returning four starters.

After a year with three seniors, the Huskies will only have one this season in Hallie Treva. Treva returns as last year’s leading scorer and steals artist. In her three full seasons, Treva has been named all-conference or received an honorable mention every year. While it can be easy to funnel an offense through a talented player, Ashley said that has not been a problem in camp and workouts.

Meanwhile, Ashley says a key part of the team’s growth will be the individual growth of Jordan and Jayden Jones. Twin six-footers, Ashley says the pair each bring something to the table outside of their height advantage.

“Jayden’s an excellent outside shooter and our best post defender,” Ashley said. Meanwhile, Jordan Jones was tied for the leading rebounder position, the team’s third-highest scorer and lead the team in blocks. Ashley said she is looking for both of them to step up as inside scoring threats, opening up better looks for outside shooters like Audrey Craven.

As for now, Ashley said the team has not lead out any big, team-wide goals. She said right now, it is about individual goals and getting better.

The team will kick off their regular season Tuesday, Nov. 19 on the road against the Avery Vikings.

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