Start girls look back at magical seasonWritten by Byron Trimble | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Start girls’ basketball team fell just short of happily ever after, although it’s still a season worth remembering.
“I knew with time we could be good,” said all-state senior Yolanda Richardson. “I never doubted our talent level. I always knew we could make it this far.”
The Spartans lost in the Division I state title game March 21 to the now four-time defending state champion Mount Notre Dame, 52-38.
“I knew since day one,” said sophomore Maleeka Kynard. “When we added Tiffani [Blackman], I felt we were complete to make a run.”
Kynard’s statement offers a glimpse into the makeup of the team.
Blackman, a junior transfer student from Bowsher, was not allowed to play until the last three games of the season due to transfer rules.
“She was always encouraging us in games and practices to get better,” Kynard said. “She would help out the coaches and help the younger girls with moves and drills.”
Coach Bob Brown talked about the team’s two seniors. Richardson won All-Ohio honors and will play at UT next season, and has been the leader from day one, Brown said. And Staci Bostic was “a scrapper and a glue-player.”
Kynard and Richardson cannot talk too long about the playoff experience without beaming.
Kynard referenced a moment in the hotel room when all the girls started screaming, realizing the magnitude of their success.
Richardson talked about the fun the girls had together the night after the title game, a time when most teams would sulk and pout after losing a game of such magnitude.
“We could’ve pointed fingers, but we’re a team. We love each other and made it this far together.”
The Spartans lose only two players to graduation. They return a host of young players, including sophomore Kynard.
“I like our team [going into next year],” Brown said. “They’re extreme hard workers who mutually learned a great deal and gained a great amount of experience of what it takes to play at the highest level.
“After the game, I told them they had an amazing run,” Brown said. “But I told them to remember the feeling … I’m not ready for it to end, but I guess it had to sometime.”
Before this season, the Spartans had never won a league title. This year, they won the league title, district and regional titles and finished second in the state.
“I think nobody gave us credit. I think you have to earn it, but everyone looked at us as good, but not great,” Brown said. “But our work ethic and blue-collar approach helped prove to people that we are better than they think we are.”