By Morgan Bryce
Coming off a highlight-filled season that saw her team advance to the Final Four for the first time in school history, win its sixth-straight area title and a key senior reach the 1,000-point plateau, Opelika High School’s Devin Booth said she is excited for the future of the Lady Bulldog basketball program.
“Every year, I feel like we’ve gotten a little better. We’ve had some great kids come through the program, and our success says a lot about them and the work that they put in for us,” Booth said. “I also have a great staff (of assistant coaches) who have been together for two years now, and we all work great together.”
Heading into the 2017-18 season, Booth said she believed her senior-laden squad was a championship contender.
In early season tournaments, Opelika faced several challenging opponents, including the Class 4A state runner-up Deshler Tigers of Tuscumbia and the Class 6A champion Hazel Green.
The Lady Bulldogs entered 2018 with a 10-6 record, having lost four of their last five games.
With 10 regular-season games left, Booth said she and her assistant coaches pressed the team to focus on finishing well.
“We were up and down early. We’d play great in spurts for a short time, then we’d struggle,” Booth said. “But when we started playing area games and getting closer to the playoffs, though, I saw a different look. They were playing as a team and showing great focus.”
That focus paid off, as the girls won 9 of their last 12 games to finish the regular season with a 19-9 mark.
From there, the girls would make a dandy run, defeating Pelham, Paul Bryant and Hillcrest before playing and eventually falling to Ramsay in the Final Four, finishing with a 23-11 overall record.
Looking to next season, Booth will be replacing five seniors: Alexis Browning, Abrea Green, Anasha Mitchell, 1,000-point career scorer Anita Payne and Cassidy Thomas, but will return key contributors like Quala Walton and Julia Claire Worth.
“The group that we have coming back is a headstrong group. They want to make sure that they accomplish all they can and check off some of the goals that we have for our program year in and year out,” Booth said.
Since coming to Opelika in fall 2009, Booth has compiled a 171-88 overall record and has never suffered a losing season.
For more information or to keep up with the girls basketball program, visit www.opelikaathletics.com.