In the weeks leading up to their first game, the Kapaun Mt. Carmel girls basketball team worked hard learning new strategies they would carry out for the rest of the season.

“This year we have made a lot of changes as far as offensive and defensive strategies,” senior Lindsey Medina said. “We had a lot of learning to do in the preseason. We worked hard on the basics and learning new plays.”

When the first game of the season arrived last Friday, it was a welcome break after weeks of practicing and preparing.

“The beginning of the year is always a little tough to stay motivated because it’s a lot of practice,” said senior Sydney Kuhn. “We were all ready to finally get to play.”

The Crusaders came out strong in their first game, defeating Wichita East 67-17. Starting the season off with a win is important because it affects the atmosphere surrounding the team, head coach Marvin Estes said.

“The kids believe in themselves and believe in what you’re doing,” Estes said. “Especially this year [because] we put in a new offense. If you lose the first few games they’re going to question the offense. You can’t be too quick to abandon something just because you lose one ball game.”

Following the game against East, the Crusaders had to prepare for their next opponent, the No. 1 team in 5A, Wichita South. Friday’s game was a great way for the team to get an idea of what they need to work on to continue improving throughout the season.

“At time we played very well and at time we needed to improve a lot,” Estes said. “We got a lot of feedback. But when you’ve got a big game like the one [against South] you can’t go back and work on basic stuff. You have to really focus on what you’re going to do against that specific team. We really will improve from our preparation for teams like South.”

The hard work and preparation at the beginning of the year once again paid off for the Crusaders as they defeated South 55-39.

“I was extremely satisfied with how the team performed tonight,” Medina said. “We really came together to win that game. It was a great game. Everyone contributed and we fought hard for that win."