Lone Grove girls basketball focused on steady improvement as Josh Drinning takes the reins

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
Destiney Adams and the Lady Horns host Byng at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30 to open the 2021-22 campaign.

It’s no secret that the Lone Grove High School girls basketball team dealt with its fair share of struggles a season ago.

However, that’s in the rearview mirror as the Lady Horns and first-year head coach Josh Drinning are shifting their focus to making steady improvement throughout the 2021-22 campaign.

“I don’t really judge our success on wins or losses,” Drinning said. “I judge our success on, ‘Did we get better that day?’ Our whole thing is, ‘Get 1% better every day.’ If we do that throughout the year, we’ll be much better than what we were in October when March comes around. The girls understand that. They know that we have expectations that they have to live up to. Once we get our full culture and everything established and hit the ground running, we’ll be good to go.”

Only time will tell if Lone Grove accomplishes those goals, but an experienced group should pay dividends. The Lady Horns welcome back six seniors with the addition of Silo transfer NayNay Turner.

Drinning expects good things out of the upperclassmen-heavy group, especially a pair of key contributors.

“Destiney Adams is a phenomenal leader,” Drinning said. “She does everything right. She works hard and is just an absolute dream to coach. Malea McMurtrey is another senior who’s an extremely aggressive player and just has a knack for getting the ball.”

That duo looks to play an immediate role as Lone Grove opens the season at home against Byng at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30. It’ll be an early test, but should help the Lady Horns gain familiarity with Drinning and company.

“… A new coach and a whole new staff coming in trying to change culture and have different philosophies from what they’re used to — it’s going to be a challenge for them,” Drinning said. “But I have absolutely nothing but high expectations for them. They show up every single day. They work hard and work together, so I have high expectations.”

However, one area that Drinning doesn’t have to worry about is team chemistry. Sometimes a new coach has to bring a locker room together, but that’s not the case at Lone Grove.

“A big fear of a lot of coaches in girls basketball is drama and we just don’t have that here,” Drinning said. “They work hard. They’ll go in there and get after each other for a good two hours. Then when we leave, you won’t see a kid leave the gym by themselves. It’s just everybody together. They just have a good (bond). That’s impressive to watch.”

The Lady Horns’ close bond no doubt makes things easier for Drinning, but it didn’t take long for him to find out the job was the perfect fit.

“First, it was a family move and then everything here kept getting better and better,” Drinning said. “With the kids, the parents, the community and the admin. Everything here is just top notch.”

Now all Lone Grove needs to do is translate that to the court. It’s safe to say it won’t happen overnight, but if the Lady Horns remain together, the sky is the limit.

“Any time your kids love each other, it’s always going to be the strength because they’re playing for more than just themselves,” Drinning said. “I think our kids do love each other. They like being around each other and being around here. If we can keep that type of culture going, we’ll be headed in the right direction.”