Catamounts off to a blazing start

Hana Haden, WCU senior. Photo courtesy of Catamount Sports.

Don’t tell the Catamounts they’re a bad team, because they can’t hear you right now.

Western’s women’s basketball team is off to its best start since 2007, when they made it to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. Their 6-3 start before the final exam break is also the best start in Head Coach Karen Middleton’s tenure here at Western.

For a team who had a rough time finding their own identity just a year ago, the Catamounts have put their heads together and come to the conclusion that they will be a force to be reckoned with this season.

“Really, I think it started all the way from postseason last year, this summer, and our preseason workouts,” said Senior Guard Hana Haden. “It’s a totally different culture on this team.”

Haden, a junior college transfer last season, had a fresh perspective of the team when she joined the team, and now she’s one of five senior team leaders, including Shauna Terry, Alex Abraham, Kristen Lyon, and Rena Wakama. Kyle Rush, the team’s play-by-play announcer, has seen these seniors lead the team both on and off the court.

“This is a team that last year you were looking for production out of one or two people,” said Rush. “Now it seems like just about every game you have four or five that are in double figures. There’s ‘senior sparks’ is what Coach Karen Middleton actually called them because they just add so much energy. When things seem to be going bad, they find a way to make a play.”

Coach Middleton has been impressed with the improvement from the team since their last game of the 2012-13 season.

“These ladies have really come together, and everyone is taking a larger role in the team chemistry,” said Middleton. You went from girls who rarely outside of a game to having three ladies who now have an apartment together. I think it’s a great thing that the entire team has a place to go to hang out and watch a movie or just come closer as a team.”

With the team looking like they’re already in midseason form, the sky’s the limit for these Catamounts. With an entire Southern Conference schedule still to go, and the Cats sitting atop the conference, Haden knows what it’s going to take to stay there.

“We have five seniors this year, and everybody is basically not taking no for an answer. We’re taking no prisoners. We’re out to win this year. We’re all thinking of it. This is our last chance.”