Lady Lions basketball team ends season on a high note

The Lions went 40-6 overall on the year, outscored their opponents on the season by nearly 1,000 points.

Lady Lions basketball team ends season on a high note
March 21
09:59 2023

The Winston-Salem Christian (WSC) girls varsity basketball team put together a memorable season that none of their players will soon forget. After playing nearly 50 games, the Lions went 40-6 overall on the year, outscored their opponents on the season by nearly 1,000 points, and also brought home a state championship.

Coming into the season, Lady Lions head coach Brandi Segars didn’t aim to play as many games as they eventually did, but felt the additional games would allow her players to see better competition, while also potentially gaining attention from scouts and coaches on the next level.

“It sort of just happened. We ended up playing in a lot of exposure tournaments for our girls, so that’s really what racked up a lot of our games. So, out of the week, we are playing three or four games, opposed to playing a regular schedule where you play two games out of the week,” said Segars about her team’s schedule.  

This was Segars’ first year as head coach of the Lady Lions basketball team. She aimed to implement her system as coach, while also finding out what the strengths and weaknesses of her players were to put them in the best possible position to be successful.  

“This is my first year coming in, so honestly I wasn’t too sure how good we were going to be, I just know that I was gonna make sure I put them in the right positions,” she said about her goals to begin the season. “I wasn’t necessarily looking at it as if we were going to have a good or bad season, I just wanted to be able to coach them and put them in the right positions, to be honest.”

It didn’t take long for Segars to realize that her team was very good. Playing in weekend fall league tournaments, the team had the opportunity to gel in game, instead of trying to fix problems during practice.

“Practices are good, but you really know about your team when you are in game-like situations. Everything that we did this year was in game and then we would talk about what we need to work on,” she continued. “We were actually in the game and experiencing all these things in a game-like setting, so I feel like that made us successful.”

The Lady Lions not only had the opportunity to gel, they also played some very stiff competition early on that prepared them for conference play and their state tournament.

“We were in shape and we were playing against top competition in these games as opposed to playing our normal conference games,” Segars said about the competition. “We know we have to worry about QEA (Quality Education Academy), GBB (North Carolina Good Better Best) and Piedmont Classical, which are the teams in our conference, but we were also playing out of conference, which gave us more competition to play for us to be successful heading into conference play.”

Because of that tough schedule, Segars and the Lady Lions were confident headed into the state tournament. There were moments of doubt for Segars because she knew how good QEA was, even though the Lady Lions defeated them three times earlier in the season. She knew they were going to give her team their best shot due to how well coached the Lady Pharaoh’s are.

“In my eyes, it was really good, but I couldn’t tell the girls that, if that makes sense,” said Segars. “I wanted them to work for it and I didn’t want them to think that it was going to be handed to them.”

Aniya Jackson and Zoé Bayer are two of the senior leaders for the Lady Lions. They are both in their first year with WSC and have definitely left a lasting legacy on the program.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when I first got here, but I knew we were going to be good when we played in the fall,” said Jackson. “The chemistry that we had; I knew we were going to be special.”

“When we started the practices, I knew that our team was going to be good,” added Bayer.

According to Jackson and Bayer, the team felt once they stepped on the court, no one could beat them. They said no matter what their opponents threw at them, they were ready for the challenge.  

Initially, the ladies were told that there would be around 30 games in the season. After playing 20 games before the winter break, Jackson says she knew they would have to “push through” for the team because there were still two months to go in the season. For Bayer, she loves being on the court, so she wanted to play as many games as possible.

Jackson and Bayer were major contributors to the Lady Lions’ state championship run. Bayer took home MVP of the tournament for her stellar play.

“I just wanted to make sure everybody was put in the best position that we were in the whole year,” said Jackson. “I didn’t want to put anyone in a position where they weren’t comfortable or something that we haven’t done all year. I just wanted to stick to the game plan.”

“I was not nervous before the game,” added Bayer. “I knew we were going to win. I was really motivated because we were playing in our gym. I knew we were going to win, so I just wanted to go out and play my game.”

To finally be on the winning side as a state champion was overwhelming, said Jackson. One of her goals was to go out on a winning note as a champion, not so much for her, but more so for her teammates.

Segars says she could not have asked for a better first season as head coach of the team. She said it was “very memorable” and gives most of the credit to her players.

“I will always remember this first season coming in,” she said. “Being the first year and not knowing what to expect and to win states my first year coaching and a lot of players’ first year here is amazing.  

“I give all the credit to my girls for them going out there and performing. I helped them along the way, but when it’s games like that, it all falls in the hands of them because they are the ones on the court. They wanted it well before I had to tell them to go get it.”

WSC was not done after they won the state championship. A week later, the team played in yet another tournament featuring some high-level opponents. The girls did not waver and won all three games that weekend.

“I didn’t really want them to go in the situation dreading it because we had a successful season and I know adding those three games could be mentally draining,” Segars said. “In the back of my mind, I just wanted them to be prepared and ready. I let them relax in practice going into the games, but also know that we had to have that same fight we had during conference and state tournament play.

“I was honestly surprised because we were already at the point where we finished everything and now I got to tell them to come on and suit up again and go play. Towards the end of the last game, it was very stressful, and their bodies started breaking down. I was just glad that we were able to go 3 and 0.”

Segars says she really doesn’t have the words to express her joy of how well the season went for her and the team. She is a former player and admits that she has never experienced a season like this.  

“I am very proud and there is so much more I could say, but the words wouldn’t really express what they did this season and how much they meant to me,” said Segars emotionally. “At the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s all about how they move forward on and off the court.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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