Mickey Hunter became the sixth coach of the Wando girls basketball team in nine years when he accepted the job last spring.
He knew there would be trials and tribulations at first. But in the long run, it would pay off with triumphs.
"All the girls have bought into the system," said Hunter, who led Myrtle Beach to the Class AAA state championship last winter. "We didn't expect Rome to be built in a day, or a year, for that matter."
But a solid foundation has been put into place. The Warriors are 7-3 heading into this weekend's action. The team is young with five juniors, six sophomores and a freshman on the roster. The team's ceiling could depend on how hard it works.
Wando athletic director Bob Hayes landed the right man in Hunter. Hunter built Myrtle Beach into one of the best programs in the state as the team won 175 games against 42 losses in his eight-year tenure as head coach at the Grand Strand school. Hunter was waiting for the right opportunity to become available in the Lowcountry. He's from the Charleston area and his parents live in Summerville. That, and coaching at one of the biggest schools in the state, brought Hunter home.
The team first practiced in November, and the time has been a learning process for both the coach and the players.
"We're learning a lot," Hunter said. "We're very young, and we're starting to play hard. Like I said, we're learning a lot. I have a different philosophy than the other coaches. It's a matter of becoming familiar with it."
The team has been impressive on offense, scoring 74.8 points per game. But defenses win championships, and the Warriors have played well, allowing only 44.5 points per outing.
The team got a big boost when Danielle Blunt transferred from North Charleston. She leads the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game and is second in assists with 3 per game.
"That's been a blessing," Hunter said of Blunt's transfer. "She had a good fall in volleyball. The team reached the state championship, and Danielle had fun playing volleyball. That energy has transferred over to the basketball court.
Emily Willoughby is another scoring threat. She's averaging 13 points per game and leads the team with 19 3-point goals.
"She's come a long way since our first practice," Hunter said. "She's shooting the ball well the last few weeks."
Sophomore point guard Morgan Behrens runs the offense. She has a good selection of shots and averages 11.3 points per game. She also leads the team with 3.7 assists per game.
Junior Sara Kerrigan provides rebounds on both ends of the court. She's averaging 5.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
The Warriors open Region 7-AAAA play against Berkeley next week, and Hunter says the team will improve even more before it faces the Stags.
"We're on the way to becoming a pretty good team," he said. "We'll see how good when region (play) starts."