VAN ALSTYNE — Lady Panthers freshman guard Emma Donald was a spark plug for the young Van Alstyne girls basketball team during the 2017-18 season. On a regular basis Donald led the team in scoring and was hustling up and down the court guarding older, more experienced girls like she had been there a hundred times before.

Starting off on varsity freshman year isn’t something most students expect when they get to high school. Donald not only expected it — she worked for it.

“It has been my goal for while, ever since I ever started playing,” Donald said. “I put in as much work as I possibly could going into my freshman year.”

Not only did she played her freshman year, she excelled, scoring a team leading 380 points and averaging a team-leading 11.9 points per game in helping the team to a tie for third-place in the district standings.

“I feel like I did pretty good,” Donald said. “But there’s always room for improvement. I can’t wait to come back next year two times harder and work two times harder during the summer.”

Despite all the success, there were some things in her game that Donald thought she was lacking.

“Definitely need to work on my defense,” Donald admitted. “I think at the beginning of the season my defense was struggling, but towards the end it got a little bit better. So I will definitely work on that over the summer, as well as my ball handling, because that can always get better.”

Even with only one year of varsity experience under her belt, Donald is already looking competitively at her future.

“I want to play college ball, especially at UConn [University of Connecticut],” Donald said. “But really, playing college ball is something I would love to do no matter where it’s at.”

Donald is confident that the Van Alstyne coaching staff and program are giving her the right tools to succeed in her goals.

“Coach Dyer really wants us to succeed, and that’s really important,” Donald said of her coach. “When the coach wants it as much as you do that only makes you want to work harder for him and yourself towards your goals.”

The Lady Panthers did some great things this year, despite not having a senior on the court. Van Alstyne made it to the playoffs, where they were beaten by region runner-up Pottsboro, 43-35, in the bi-district round. Regardless, Donald is certain of her team’s future success.

“We may be young, but we are fighters,” Donald said. “We want to get out there to play ball. My thought process has always been to play this game as hard as we can and move onto the next. I hope for next year that we are district champs, getting passed the first round, just making it our goal to go further than we did the year before each year.”