"We've had a good summer,'' Calabrese said. "We went to a couple of shoot-outs, we played in a fall league and got in a total of 20 games over the summer.
"We had the majority of our kids out during our three weeks of practice [in June]. They've bonded real well and their work ethic has been real good. We like where we're at right now.''
The Cougars have a solid base with juniors Khadijah Lee, Katie Crowder, Tanija Spencer and Key Key Dudley returning as starters. Spencer netted 15 points against Huntington, Crowder added 15 and freshman India Hairston 10.
"We felt at different times last year we would reach a point in games where we would make physical and mental mistakes, and that single-digit game would go into double digits and they would just falter,'' said Calabrese.
"We had the same opportunity to do that against Huntington. We fell behind by eight early in the game. They came back and took a one-point lead in the fourth quarter and we were able to overcome that. That's just something we need to continue to build off.''
Skyhawks take flight
Scott was also off and soaring, capturing the 17th annual Donnie Fenton Shootout at Williamstown last weekend.
Skyhawks senior guard Makenzie White sank two free throws with three seconds left for a 52-50 win over Wheeling Central, which was fourth in the Class A preseason poll. Scott (3-0), which has played in the last two Class AA state title games, was second in the preseason rankings.
Scott coach John Porter said the tournament was a great way to get some of the younger players experience. The Skyhawks are starting three sophomores, with Andrea Rankin, a 6-foot freshman, the top substitute off the bench.
"We've still got those young kids,'' said Porter. "Even the sophomores are scared right now, but in a couple of weeks we'll be OK. Wheeling Central was big. They're a very, very good team.
"The sophomores that were a little scared going in should have picked up some confidence from that. I think we're going to be OK by the end of the year, if not sooner.''
White, who has signed with West Virginia University, is averaging 23.7 points, and 6-0 sophomore Ali Whitman has added 13.0.
"We've been using the two of them [Rankin and Whitman] and that's a whole lot for Makenzie to work with,'' Porter said. "It's a nice little bunch. They did a nice job with Wheeling Central, who had about three or four seniors starting.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.