On the surface, the 2018-19 season Central High School girls basketball season seemed to be another middling year for the program.

Head coach Mary Doane, however, had plenty of reasons to be optimistic. One of those factors was the experience that would be returning for 2019-2020, with Delaney Brown being the lone senior on the roster last season.

Another one of those factors was the return of Leah Redding.

As a sophomore, Redding led the team with 12.6 points per game and was second in rebounds with 4.2 per game, cementing herself as a leader.

“I feel like I just have to lead,” Redding said. “I have to do my job and that’s my job as a player on this team. That’s the role I take in each game.”

So far this season, Redding and the Warriors have progressed like Doane hoped.

Central has dropped two straight games, including a 48-41 loss to Delta at home Tuesday, but those two defeats have only slightly dampened the enthusiasm from a 6-4 start.

Redding once again leads the Warriors in scoring, bumping her average up to 15.3. She’s made 42 of 60 free throws (31 more attempts than anyone else on the team).

The Warriors are more well-rounded than a year ago, but Redding is the scoring catalyst on an improved team.

“Everyone just wants to work hard and play for each other instead of playing individually,” Redding said. “We know how we need to score, when we need to score, when we need to keep the ball and pass the ball. We all love each other as a team. We come together like that.”

Much of Redding’s offensive production is a result of her defensive tenacity. She leads Central with 22 steals, often making them count in transition.

Central’s defensive fortitude directly affects the offense’s rhythm.

“I feel like, if I get going on defense, my defense will create my offense,” Redding said. “I’ll be able to score more once I get a couple steals in each game.”

Redding led Central with 12 points in its loss to Delta (3-3). The Warriors never led in the game after falling behind 10-0 early.

“We came out really slow and we let them get a bigger lead,” Redding said. “We kind of shut down altogether.”

Despite two straight losses, positivity still abounds in the Central locker room. The Warriors not only still have a winning record, but since their season-opening loss to Denver South by 12 points, their three losses since have come by a combined 10 points.

Central knows it can’t make early holes a habit.

“It’s just about being able to come out strong,” Redding said. “We can’t be slow just because we were on break or anything. We can’t let anything affect us playing our game. We can’t lower down to other teams’ levels.”

Recommended for you