COLUMBIA — After a grueling practice, all but one player heads for the locker room. Kendahl Adams, a junior point guard on the Hickman girls basketball team, stays.
While an assistant coach feeds her the ball at different areas of the court, she takes additional shots. At the beginning, the results are mixed with Adams slamming the ball down and groaning in dismay after missing three shots in a row.
“Lately the rotation in my shot has been off,” Adams said. “So I have been working before and after every practice in order to fix it.”
Five minutes pass and head coach Tonya Mirts joins the drill. Mirts observes Adams’ form and tells her to make a slight adjustment to straighten out her shot.
Adams has been working furiously over the summer to make up for lost time. Last year, her season was cut short after she broke her collar bone midway through the schedule. The Kewpies were 16-2 before Adams was injured, but only 2-6 after she was sidelined.
“It feels really good to be back," Adams said. “I didn’t pick things up right away, but after working out over the summer, I feel I am capable of making the right decisions.”
Back in the gym, Adams’ shots start to fall after making the adjustment. The sound of net cracking with every swish echoes throughout the otherwise empty gym.
As Adams gets into a rhythm, the echo is quickly replaced by Mirts loudly encouraging Adams.
“She can’t miss!” Mirts screams after Adams makes four in a row.
Mirts has installed a new offense this year, and she has high expectations for her point guard to be a primary playmaker.
“I am going to have to know what everyone else is doing,” Adams said. “I have to be quick and effective.”
Adams swishes her last three shots, and her previous look of discouragement has been replaced by a huge smile, which reveals her braces and a couple of missing teeth.
After the final swish, Mirts calls out two words that effectively sum up the culmination of Adam’s recovery and corrected jump shot.
Next, Adams has a reservation for an ice bath for her legs. She is joined by seniors Cherish Walton and Jade Holly. Walton and Holly nod in agreement as Adams explains her expectations for the season.
“I think we are going to win 22 games this year,” Adams said. “I also think we are going to win a couple of tournaments.”
Adams’ isn’t alone in her optimism. Mirts, Holly and Walton have all said this team has a chance to make a deep run in the postseason.
“This is going to be a good year for us,” Adams said. “We have a lot of players coming back from injuries, and I’m just really psyched to get out and play.”