Story by Michaela Baker, Mendy Harris and Madison Metts
Beads of sweat began to form on the player’s foreheads as the warm ups came to a close and the coaches paced back in forth anticipating the start of the game. A chant rang through the ever familiar and filled Colonial Life Arena as the pep club declared “This is our house”. “This is our house”. “This is our house”. The Dutch Fork Girls’ varsity basketball team had made it to the State Championship for the third year in a row playing against Greenwood.
This, was their house.
With a steady start, the girls were up 37-17 at the end of the first half. The lead was enjoyable, but not promising.
“We had to work on our offense to make sure that we understood our personnel and not to put anybody in a heated situation. You know, you cover up their flaws while they cover up yours,” Coach Faye Norris said. “That’s the thing. We had to deal with our strengths.”
The game was nothing but easy as what was a mere basketball game resembled a tennis match as the possession changed from team to team quickly.
“I know they got off to a good lead,” freshman center at USC Alaina Coates said. “But then towards the end it got a little hectic but they were just able to do what they needed to do and play as a team to win.”
An end score of 62-55 with the silver foxes taking the win took enormous amounts of dedication and focus throughout the season.
“At first it was pretty intense. A lot of running and going over plays and defenses that we needed to work on,” senior point guard Sydney Shull said. “Then as it got closer, it was pretty laid back kind of practices because we knew what we had to do and it was mostly just walk throughs.”
Preparation for the championship consisted not only of physical conditioning but also mental conditioning.
“They had so much opposition and so many people comparing them to the 2013 team,” Norris said. “That was in the back of their minds and so I used that several times this year. Their young minds dealing with it was always tough but they put it to silence.”
A changeup in the players from last year had an effect on the predicted outcome of the season.
“I am pretty proud of them,” Alaina said. “I know they had a lot of people saying they are not going to do well without me and you know with the way the season started I did not know if they were going to be anything. But I was really proud that they won and overcame all the neighsayers and all the negativity and get this three peat.”
Losing players from last year while adding new players forced the girls to overcome new dynamics within the team.
“I feel like what we overcame the most is that we lost six seniors last year,” junior Morgan Williams said. “We brought a lot of people up from JV and we rebuilt and restart.”
In the end, the girls dominated with a third state championship. Pushing obstacles and doubts out of the way, a dream of a threepeater became reality.
“My thing was that the girls did it,” Norris said. “They were determined to get better. They just had so many obstacles and so many distractions that got in their way during the season. When they peaked at the end of the season and when the buzzer sounded they went all the way through and finished it.”