Bailey, who was appointed to the top spot in the girls basketball program over the summer, noted that the time he spent working with the team during that window of camps and open gym sessions was critical in getting ahead of the game.
“That right there really helped. I could see how if we didn’t get any summer work in, oh, man, it would probably look like it was chaos going on right now,” Bailey said. “But we established the first part of the program. It really helped out this summer having the girls here, participating and really ready to go.”
Once again, Villa Rica will be led by the 1-2 punch of seniors Britney Wright and Rhianna Warren. The pair of first-team all-area performers both averaged 14 points per game last season, with Wright, who signed with Alabama State this week, also pulling down nine boards per contest in 2011-12.
Bailey said having them back has made the coaching transition much smoother.
“Most definitely. I give them a lot of credit, as well as giving the rest of my seniors credit. They’ve stepped up and took on the role of leaders, also. A lot of teams are going to be keying on Britney and Rhianna, so we need some people in other areas to step up. The other seniors have definitely stepped up a lot,” Bailey said.
One of those seniors leading the way alongside Wright and Warren is Shamaya Evans, who Bailey expects to have a breakout season of her own this winter.
“She’s like my other behind-the-scenes captain. She doesn’t get all the recognition of being a big-time basketball player, but she has a big heart, she plays hard, she plays with emotion and she’s a multi-sport athlete, also,” Bailey said.
The first-year VR coach is also hopeful that several players on last season’s unbeaten junior-varsity squad are now ready for prime time.
The Lady Wildcats move up to Class AAAAA this winter, and Bailey is confident they can be a competitive force and playoff contender.
“Well, I feel like we have an opportunity to finish very well in our region. We had a chance to get to see Allatoona this summer. They’re a very well-coached team. I think they’ll be one of the favorites, and I felt real good playing against them,” Bailey said. “I think we really have a shot at being big-time contenders in our region.”
Of course, with a new gymnasium opening in Villa Rica this season — tentatively penciled in for a Jan. 4 christening — there is plenty of excitement for folks in the City of Gold.
“The girls are very anxious. Me and the girls took a tour and we walked around and introduced them to their new home,” Bailey said. “It’s something we want to take pride in. We want to establish that you don’t want to come play us here.”