Scott Gray is well aware of what it takes to build a winning program at Union County.
The longtime Patriot softball coach has developed that team into an area power with several Tri-Eastern Conference, sectional and regional championships to its credit.
Gray now has his attention aimed at Union County’s girls basketball program. The first-year head basketball coach has spent several seasons as an assistant with the Patriots’ successful boys basketball program.
“Basketball takes more training and is a different skill level,” Gray said. “If you put the time in, you’ll get the results you want. I think they’ve bought in to that.”
Seniors Leah Gabbard and Marie Duckworth look to lead the Patriots. Juniors Emily Goecke, Payton Waltz and Samantha Strait, sophomores Tanner Henry, Madison Walters, Madeline Fulton and Sammie Elleman and freshman Sierra Dowler also are expected contributors.
Gabbard and Duckworth have a lot of experience.
“Both have played all four years,” Gray said.
” … Knowing the TEC, girls basketball is pretty strong. We have some work ahead of us. I definitely feel good about the direction we’re heading.”
Part of Gray’s mission early on is to work on skill sets, and to see his team improve at ball handling, passing and shooting.
The Patriots open Friday at North Decatur, the first game in a double weekend that also includes Saturday’s home game with Milan.
Union County also plays host Nov. 22 to Randolph Southern, and is on the road Nov. 23 at Eastern Hancock.
“We need to see improvement early,” Gray said. “We’ve put a lot out on the table for them. We need to see some progress. We’ve seen it in practice.
“We wanted to improve the skill set. The kids are doing that. It’s a work in progress every day, but they drill hard. They are very attentive in the instruction they are getting. They want to get better.”
The Patriots finished 2-19 last season, 0-7 in the TEC.
Union County begins TEC play Nov. 30 at Union City. The Patriots’ first home conference tilt is Dec. 11 with Hagerstown.
“I think it’s always been strong,” Gray said of the TEC.
“We’re going to have a battle every single night. I hope we’re up to the task and we can compete for a championship.
” … The kids are extremely excited. We’re ready to get going to see where we’re at.”