17-2. Let’s remember that score. That’s the way the 2021-22 senior girls D3 basketball season started this past Tuesday. In our home opener, after an energetic warmup, and with a raucous home crowd waving signs and cheering us on, with four minutes left in the first half I looked up and saw those numbers on the scoreboard. Down 17-2.
Let’s remember the nerves and the panic. The white noise in our heads, the yippy passes, the turnovers, the doing random things on offence we’d never done in practice. Partly due to it being our first real game together wearing the Red & White, and partly due to all of our friends and parents watching our every move, we were, as Rosema so aptly put it, “in our own heads.”
Let’s remember our fatigue as we realized we’re not in as good a shape as we thought. The late defensive rotations, or sometimes non-rotations, that left countless open jump shots for our opponents. The truly atrocious defensive rebounding.
But let’s also remember Player Of The GameTMCamryn Moore’s defensive athleticism and intensity in the zone and her lockdown of LaRuche’s top player in the last 5 desperate minutes. And Maddie Lippmann’s good hands. And Rosemary Lefebvre scoring in transition. And Melissa Kakayuk-Antoine’s second-half offensive rebounding. And Siena Webster’s confident shooting – nice Highlight Of The NightTM buzzer beater to end the first half, too!
Let’s remember that after talking it out at halftime we started the third quarter feeding the post so successfully that LaRuche had to switch defence out of man-to-man and into a zone.
And most importantly, let’s never forget that, after pretty well the worst nightmare start we could have ever imagined, how your Spartans reacted. Did their shoulders slump? No. Did their eyes glaze over? No. Did they stop trying? Hell no. The girls refused to give up, kept problem-solving, played harder, played smarter, and went on a 17-4(!) run of their own. Somehow, by the end of the third quarter, despite all the confusion from things we hadn’t learned and didn’t know how to do yet (transition defence? extending our zone? offence vs a 3-2 zone? WHAT?!), somehow we had ripped the momentum away from LaRuche and we had ourselves a ballgame. Ultimately, fatigue and the fact that we’d only had four practices this season caught up to us – final score 37-26 for LaRuche. But here’s the thing: Coach Wolfe and I can teach X’s and O’s and fast-break running lanes and zone rotations and offensive sets, but we can’t teach grit. Or perseverance. Or pride. And this team has those things. Which bodes well for this season. Very well indeed.
So yes, let’s remember that score. Let’s remember that feeling. Let’s remember how we ended up there. And let’s use it for fuel for the rest of the season. 17-2. That was the beginning.