GRAFTON, W.Va (WBOY) – With a new year officially underway, the high school basketball season is set to kick into high gear, and as the stakes get higher, one team has set its sights on proving that early success will continue into 2023.

The Grafton girls’ basketball team lost 19 consecutive games to end the 2021-22 season after starting 2-1.

Before the calendar turned to 2023, this year’s edition of the Lady Bearcats already tripled that win total and made it clear that other teams had better not overlook them when they line up.

With a team assembled primarily of underclassmen and led by first-year coach Hartsel Keener, Grafton is the surprise of the season so far in north central West Virginia, but there’s plenty more to be proven over the next few months.

“They’re coachable. They work hard for me every day and that’s really all I can ask for. We’re trying to break bad habits and it’s a work in progress. Slowly by surely, we’re getting there and we’re getting better every day. We want to be tomorrow than we were today,” Keener said.

A young group of Bearcats has grown up in a hurry over the offseason and it’s paying dividends with all five of Grafton’s starters in its most recent game against Westside being underclassmen.

Led by sophomore Hadley Horne and freshman Kenna Keener, there’s a future in mind for the bearcats that goes beyond just winning some more games this season.

“We lost a three-year starter at the beginning of the season that hasn’t got to play any yet and yet, we’re still making things happen on the court right now,” Hartsel Keener said, “To me, the sky’s the limit. We got some kids in the middle school program that are going to be able to step in and help as people move on and whatnot. Right now, Grafton basketball is in a great position.”

The Lady Bearcats return to action in search of a seventh win on the season and their first in 2023 on Friday night, visiting Buckhannon-Upshur in Big Ten Conference action.