Sable Winfree returned this past season as the Lady Pioneers’ starting point guard in her sophomore year after being named Freshman of the Year in Warren County’s district a year earlier.

I experienced an unusual introduction to Sable Winfree during her freshman season. When I started following Warren County athletics intensely two years ago, I had virtually no knowledge of who was on the teams. One night I was covering Eastside elementary basketball, and a fifth-grader, Sarah Kate Winfree scored something like 24 or 26 points. I interviewed her, and was surprised at how articulate and willing Sarah Kate was in helping me report about her game. Well, the next night, her sister Sable Winfree was the polar opposite after Warren County’s game.

Sable Winfree was exiting the basketball court after the game, and I approached her. I said something like, “Hey, you have a younger sister Sally Kate (I am terrible at remembering names), and she scored 26 points last night. Can you answer a few questions about your game tonight?” Sable replied with a facial expression I was very familiar with — my daughter gave me the same look often when she was in high school. Sable said, “No, and that’s not her name!” And Sable walked away.

That interaction stopped me in my tracks. I immediately knew that I had received the same look my daughter had given me countless times when she wanted me to know how stupid I was. Well, I had messed up Sable’s sister’s name, and it was clear that Sable had no interest in talking to me. I had a dilemma…I was a sports reporter for the local newspaper, and I thought I had stumbled upon an interesting story of a family full of exceptional athletes. How was I going to get this freshman to talk to me? Consequently, I was determined to try and redeem myself, and to get to know more about the Winfree family.

But I digress…the real appeal with Sable Winfree is her basketball performance. I love her personality and her family; furthermore, she is a great part of the Lady Pioneers’ story. Night after night her freshman season, it was exciting to see how such a young athlete could do so well as a point guard on a varsity team. This season her teammates matured and developed, and collectively they made the impressive run to win over 20 games after losing over 20 games just two seasons ago. Personally, I think the heart of Sable Winfree is a major factor in the Lady Pioneers’ recent success.

I am grateful that several members of the Lady Pioneers basketball team participated in interviews for this series of articles about the team. I am always surprised when Sable Winfree communicates with me when I know she thinks I don’t know what I am talking about regarding basketball. Listening to head coach Anthony Lippe and the five players who started down the stretch of this past season helped me understand what makes this team special. I hope some of the the players’ personalities and love for the game came through in these interviews.

And now, the final interview in this series with the floor commander of the Lady Pioneers, point guard Sable Winfree.

Sable Winfree, No. 10 during a timeout with teammates. Left is Lex Verge, No. 35, right is Sydney Burger, No. 44 and Kennedi Pegg, No. 12.

BD Newsletter: How would you compare your sophomore year to your freshman year individually?
SABLE WINFREE: I felt like coming back as a sophomore I knew a little bit more of what I would be playing against, and I knew the game better. I had some experience, whereas playing as a freshman it was my first year and I had to kind of figure everything out.

BD Newsletter: How was this year’s team different?
SABLE WINFREE: After last season ended, we all got together as a team and agreed that we wanted to make it as far as possible this year. Everyone improved over the summer with this goal in mind. When we came back, everyone was on the same page and just wanted to win. No one was worried about who scored or who played as long as we won. We played as a team this year, and that’s what made us so successful. 

Sable Winfree helped raise the competitive spirit of the Lady Pioneers as a young freshman and sophomore the past two seasons.

BD Newsletter: On a scale of 1-10, 1 being almost painful and 10 being maximum discomfort, how much discomfort did you have with injuries this season? Please list them, knee, back, etc.
SABLE WINFREE: I would say like an 8. I had my back injury still from last year start to bother me, and then in a game against Franklin, I went up for a last shot and hyper extended my knee — taking me out for a week or so. I would have to say this year was probably my worst for injuries. I mean, I don’t think there was one game where I didn’t end up on the floor.

BD Newsletter: How did you feel when the season ended?
SABLE WINFREE: I was upset that we couldn’t go farther, but I’m glad that we went as far as we did. I really will miss playing with Jaden and the bond that we had after playing together

BD Newsletter: What do you see as the strengths of next year’s team? It’s weaknesses?
SABLE WINFREE: I feel like next year our strengths will be the fact that we’re stacked in guards. We have Shelby, Kyra and Mia, but we’ll also have Savannah and Stick (Brienne Kelsey) coming in. We will definitely be a hard team to guard with all the speed. But I feel like our weakness will definitely be our height and the fact that we don’t have a true 5. But I think with all the speed, it won’t matter that much if we get them in transition.

BD Newsletter: How do you think high school basketball has affected you, the team, the school and town?
SABLE WINFREE: I think high school basketball has definitely humbled me since middle school. Playing in high school has definitely given me more confidence, and I owe most of that to coach Lippe who helped show me how to be a good leader, better athlete and a good teammate. I don’t think anyone in Warren County would think they would see girls basketball get farther than the boys, but I think it’s deserved with how hard we worked and how much time everyone has put into the team. Girls basketball has been so underestimated in Warren County for so long; so, I’m really excited to finally see us get some of the spotlight.

Sable Winfree played hurt and with a lot heart in games this past season. She has endless energy on the court, and was hurt before this foul shot at Coffee County.

BD Newsletter: One more question, what will you work on during the offseason?
SABLE WINFREE: I have already started to work on my left. I would love to come back and have both hands. I also was planning on working on my shot and stamina. I feel like if I get that down, that would put me a step ahead.

A rare moment when Sable Winfree was not active on the court.

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