CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington opened practice Monday with high expectations, and rightfully so.
The Patriots return seven players, including four starters, from last year's team that advanced to the Class AAA state tournament semifinals for the second straight year.
"I'm really pleased with what I'm seeing right now,'' said GW coach Jamie LaMaster. "You've got girls that have seen it.
"They don't know what it's like not playing for regional and state titles. They know the feeling of having success. They know what it's going to take to get where we want to go. Today is where it's going to start. It's right now.''
GW finished with a 17-10 overall record and upset second-seeded South Charleston in the quarterfinals of the state tournament before falling to eventual state champion Greenbrier East.
Patriots senior guard Rachel Ward, junior post player Kelli Jo Harrison, sophomore point guard Alanna Mobayed and senior guard Kayla Stewart return. Ward averaged 12.8 points while Harrison tossed in 12.1. GW seniors Eva Roberts and Leslie Gilmore will add depth off the bench.
"We just hope we pick up and carry from where we were the last two years,'' LaMaster said. "I've had great turnouts for our fall ball and conditioning practices. They've put a lot of work in the fall and summer and hopefully that's going to pay off.
"They've worked really hard for me in the offseason. Now it starts counting. It's for keeps now. We want to constantly have that attitude. We're looking to them as coaches and saying, 'You don't want to be the class that drops the ball.' ''
SC began drills with a lot of new faces.