‘Sustaining excellence’ expectation as Lady Buffs approach post season


Nick Alvarado

Lexy Hightower has been one of the top sophomores in the country, averaging about 15 points per game for the Lady Buffs

Allie Smith, Sports Editor

With four games remaining before the post season, the WTAMU Women’s Basketball team is running off the momentum of a five-win streak.

This season has seen some ups and downs for the Lady Buffs, but they have continually proven that the grind of the long season and the complications that come with it are not too big to handle.

“The biggest thing is we have everything in front of us,” head coach Kristen Mattio said. “We just have to earn it and we have to go fight for it every day.”

This is a team with a 12-4 conference record. They are ranked second in the Lone Star Conference and #25 in the country. They answered a three-loss streak with a five-win streak. They refuse to quit.

“You go back to your foundation of ‘What got us here?’” Mattio said. “We won 14 games in a row to start the season. How did we achieve that? What got us to that point? Sometimes, not that you’re living back in history, but you have to remember who you are. Don’t worry about these other teams that we’re playing, their strategies and their tactics. Understand who you are stepping onto the court every night and that should fuel you and give you confidence.”

This Lady Buff squad is unique thanks to the way it relies on players of all ages to find the win column.

“Having multiple people contribute on this team is one of our greatest assets and strengths,” senior Madison Parker said. “I think having a few veterans on the team keeps us focused and adds confidence because we know how the process works and what it takes to reach our goals. Having young and new people on the team also is a strength because each one of them brings something different to the table. As a team, each one of us has a role and it doesn’t matter what classification you are. You are expected to do your role every time we step on the floor.”

Sophomore Lexy Hightower said that the varied talent is one of the team’s best assets.

“Having all ages on the court creates a very fun and interesting dynamic,” sophomore Lexy Hightower said. “Everyone plays a different way and with a different strength and I think that just ultimately makes us better.”

Mattio said there is definitely a learning curve for newcomers to the LSC.

“We have some transfers and new faces that are just learning this,” Mattio said. “If you haven’t been in the Lone Star Conference, you don’t know the grind and what it looks like. Every place we go to is new for them when we travel.”

This and other factors played a part in the mid-season grouping of a few tough, close losses. However, Hightower said that she thinks the team used it to their advantage.

“We bounced back by regrouping,” Hightower said. “We came together and are holding one another more accountable. I think it was a learning experience for us and a wake up call, showing us that everyone is going to play their best game against us and we have to bring it every night and prepare even better for teams when we practice.”

With the journey of the post season looming on the horizon four games away, Mattio said that this is the best time to make sure the team is functioning like a well-oiled machine.

“I talk about strong body, strong minds,” Mattio said. “Your health is the most important thing you have to offer to your team, and to offer in life in general because if you’re not healthy, you can’t do what you’re called to do. So you just have to talk about it. We do have a lot of structure in how we do things… I think you have to talk about it because everybody comes from different backgrounds… When you get into this grind of your season, there has to be some sacrifice but there also has to be ultimate discipline too so you can perform at your highest level every single night.”

Overall, thanks to solid senior leadership and the consistent contributions of every name on the roster, the Lady Buffs said that they feel they can control their destiny as they continue with the thickest of competition.

“You take it one day at a time,” Mattio said. “Don’t look too far ahead. Don’t look behind you. Just understand the next step that we’re taking. I’m excited to continue to keep working with these girls because they play hard and they’re fun to coach. I think really the sky is the limit for this Lady Buff Basketball team.”