SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Washington Girls took home the Class AA State Basketball Championship last year for the first time since 2015. While they’ll have to fill the void left by by last year’s graduating class, the Warriors feel they have the talent to be a top contender in AA once again.

Despite winning the state title last season, there’s no complacency with this year’s Washington team.

“When we walked in the door in June they were ready to go. They’re really excited. There was at no point where they sat around and patted themselves on the back. They wanted to get back to work. They wanted to get better,” Washington Head Coach Jamie Parish said.

The Warriors graduated four starters from last season, but do return future Texas Longhorn Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda, who continues to improve her game.

“She has worked on shooting the ball. We do some shooting competitions in practice where we keep score. She broke one of our team records over the weekend, and then two days later she broke her own record again. So you know she’s putting time in,” Parish said.

The senior has grown into a leadership role.

“I think back to my freshman and sophomore year and how I wanted seniors to treat me, and juniors to treat me. I sort of just relate that to how I treat the underclassmen and even the juniors coming back,” Senior Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda said.

Hannah and Brooklyn Harpe, Alexus Motley, and Taylor Thompson all saw significant time last year. The Warriors will look to those four along with Kelsey Severson and Bianca Meeks among others for production. They all benefited from playing with and practicing against last year’s senior group.

“There were a lot of times last year where our practices were so competitive that it felt game like,” Parish said.

“We had intense practice last year so we know that feeling of how to push ourselves, go past our limit and definitely not settling,” Mwenentanda said.

While they determine how all these pieces fit together best, the Warriors approach gives them plenty of time to figure that out.

“We want to play really hard. We want to play really well. We want to try to win every game, but everything from now until Valentine’s Day is just practice. We’re just getting better, we’re trying to figure it out,” Parish said.

Washington opens its season next Thursday as they visit crosstown rival Lincoln.