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New coach Kyle Habovick is changing the culture of girls’ basketball at Northwestern

If you were looking for the Northwestern girls’ basketball practice Wednesday afternoon, you wouldn’t find them in the gym.

The Trojans were in the weight room going through a gauntlet of workouts.

Watching over everything was first-year head coach Kyle Habovick.

“Right now, we are just doing some offseason conditioning drills and strength and agility drills,” Habovick said. “A lot of footwork. We rotated through some defensive slides and some rotations without the basketball present, just trying to build up some of that chemistry and rotation and help side stuff.”

Habovick was hired for the job in March, taking over a Northwestern team that finished 2-22 and last in its region this season.

He said the team’s players have shown a willingness to be coached and a strong bond, which makes the transition to a new system smoother.

“Our culture is going to boil down to three things here, and that’s going to be hard work, organization and preparation,” Habovick said. “Our student-athletes will be one of the hardest-working, organized and prepared teams that will strive to compete night in and night out. That’s one of my biggest goals for us; I want us to be competitive, and I want to make teams earn everything that they get.”

Habovick will implement an offensive concept that amplifies the strengths of his players, while defensively, the Trojans will utilize multiple sets, forcing other teams and coaches adjust to Northwestern’s intensity.

Habovick lives in Rock Hill and he wanted an opportunity to coach and teach where he lived — for the first time. Then came the job at Northwestern.

“I’m so used to serving other communities as a teacher and a basketball coach and having to drive to another city or another school district,” Habovick said. “Now I get to serve my own city, my own school district, schools that my kids are going to go to and things like that. That really gives me a sense of purpose here that I’m serving my own community in many different ways.”

Spending the previous five seasons as the head JV boys basketball coach at Catawba Ridge, Habovick has seen the Copperheads’ program blossom since the school opened in 2019.

The varsity boys have three-straight 20-win seasons with a program-best 25 wins this past year.

That experience showed Habovick how to cultivate success, even when the talent may fluctuate from year to year.

“One thing that we’ve stuck to over at Catawba Ridge that I’m going to bring over here with us is the organization and being prepared,” Habovick said. “Whether you’re a high-level, Division I athlete or just a young student-athlete who’s just trying to get started, engagement, player relationship, organization and preparation will be the things we try to stick to. That way we can hit every player at every different level and try to find some success at their level.”

Habovick wants to see Northwestern continue to add to what it has done so far as the Trojans head into summer workouts.

Leaning on veterans like rising senior All-Region forward Jalyn Jones (7.5 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game last season) and younger players like junior guard Lael Lowery, Habovick is looking for his team to keep building momentum as players who were out due to injury or other sport commitments make their returns.

“Right now, we’re just planning on just trying to be competitive, getting in the gym and build that chemistry so when we play our summer games and host our play dates that we look the part on the basketball court, that we belong there,” Habovick said. “We’re going to make teams earn it right away, starting this summer.”

Habovick will also work at the school as a special education teacher.