Kris Wright sees a difference in his Western Albemarle girls' basketball team this pre-season.
"I feel like our preparation level and our intensity level is different at this time of year than it normally is," says Wright, the Warriors' head coach. "And I think that has to be residual, run-down effect from being in the state semifinals last year. It carries over, in terms of the type of work it takes to be that successful."
The Warriors are coming off a 21-7 season in 2010-11. It ended with the program's first-ever appearance in the state semifinals, a 50-44 loss to AA Division 3 runners-up R.E. Lee.
"It's something to look forward to, since we've tasted what it's like to have been there. If we can try to do that again, that would be great," says senior wing Alora Henry. "If we just focus, one game at a time. That's what we did last year - just focus on the next game."
Six of the 12 players on last year's roster were seniors. So Wright's team will have some new faces when it opens the 2011-12 season on Tuesday night at Harrisonburg.
"I mean, every year is different. So you have to start over, and re-instill the principals and the fundamentals of what we like to do," he says. "But, because they kind of know what it takes to get there, what it takes on a daily basis in terms of practice, it's a little easier to motivate and keep kids excited."
"It's good that we have had the experience," says senior wing Mady Baker. "So we just need to help people that have come up, and push them so they know what it's like. And then, hopefully, we'll see how it goes."