“She’s still kind of getting into the groove of what we’re doing,” Bulldogs coach Eddie Bullock said. “She played well last year when she came, but she didn’t know what we were doing. Now she’s kind of used to what we’re doing so she’s back to her old self.”
It was a new experience for Bolton, who had started for Wellborn since she was in eighth grade. And despite being the star for the Panthers, her transfer to Anniston came behind “looking for a different feel.”
“I knew (Anniston) would be (different) because I was pretty much the go-to person at Wellborn and I knew that I would have more help at Anniston,” Bolton said. “I knew what I had to do when I came to Anniston and knew that I was going to have to get better than I was at Wellborn.”
Before Bolton could improve her own game, however, she had to learn the way Anniston played.
“There’s always a learning curve for the kids,” Bullock said. “Whenever you’ve got a coaching change you’ve got to learn the new coach’s system. That’s all she had to do because she has a lot of natural ability. There were some fundamental things that I wanted to work on with her and, of course, learning my system.
“She started pretty much her whole life until she came to Anniston, and she’s used to starting, but you can’t put a kid out there before another kid in the system that already knows the system better. They’re going to be more productive than the one that are coming in.”
Fast forward a season and Bolton is standing out in more ways than one. The junior is averaging 21 points per game, 13 rebounds per game and four blocks per game.
“I would say I’m about 70 percent better,” Bolton said about her improvements on the court. “When I was at Wellborn, I wasn’t really running the floor like I should have been. But now I go out there and run and pretty much play the whole game now. I also take better shots than I did at Wellborn.”
However, Bolton still sees some room for improvement in her game despite her dominating season, most of which is simply playing harder.
“I seem to take plays off,” she said. “But I noticed (Tuesday night) when coach got on me and when I got the ball I was demanding it and I felt more aggressive scoring. I just can’t let anybody stop me or play down to my competition.”
With Anniston holding a 20-2 record and only Munford scheduled before the county tournament starts on Saturday, Bolton is “very excited” to play the teams around Anniston.
“We don’t have many teams around the county on our schedule so I’m really excited because they’re people I know and have known since I was growing up playing basketball,” she said. “It’s also a fun experience playing against friends.
“I’m just going to play my game, but I know that everyone else’s top priority is to beat the No. 1 seed. So I know I have to play better than I have been playing. If I play my game, I feel like everything else will fall into place.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.