The Our Lady of Peace varsity girls basketball team is preparing to travel to Harrisburg to represent the Diocese of Scranton in the State Diocesean Tournament March 15-17.
Although the team may be short on experience, according to head coach Phil Odum they are dedicated to sport.
“Hard work and dedication,” Odum said, are keys to their success. “The girls came in at the beginning of the season and set a goal for themselves to win the Diocesean championship. We have three great eighth-graders that have leadership (Calista Klein, Grace Evans and Abby Rothwell). They’re the ones who set the tone.”
Odum has been inspired by the girls commitment and dedication to the season.
“The three eighth graders came up with a saying: faith, focus and finish,” he said. “I thought it was incredible. We say that after every practice.”
Odum also credited the parents and other coaches for the team’s run to states.
“We have a tremendous amount of parent support,” he said. “And I have three tremendous assistant coaches (Kevin Wright, Dr. Jerry Evans and Laura Marion).”
The team currently has a 33-1 overall record and finished league play 21-0.
Odum thinks the team’s perfect league record is a reflection of both their talent and desire to success.
“It’s special, especially for them because their the ones who set the goal,” he said. “They came in with a refuse- to- lose attitude. I don’t think their goal was to finish 21-0, but they said ‘We’re gonna play every game hard.’ And if we continue to do what we set out to do, a victory should be the end result.”
According to Odum, the team’s focus turned to defense in preparation of the state tournament.
“Defense wins championships,” he said. “We also have to understand that we have to execute because we’re a school team and we have to prepare to go up against some parish teams. We have three eighth-graders and some schools are picking from 500 eighth-graders. We’re going to play hard and hopefully be successful in the Dioceses tournament.
Eight-grader Grace Evans is excited for the tough competition as well as meeting new people, but her end goal is to win.
She believes the team’s communication on the court contributed to their success.
“We play well together and we mesh well,” she said.
According to Evans, the team battled through a tough game in their last contest, but came together to get the win.
“We’ve played pretty well throughout the whole season, the last game was kind of a struggle but we still pulled through,” she said.
Eight-grader Calista Kline believes the fact that most of the team have been playing together for several years has helped them form a connection on the court.
“We’ve been playing for a long time now, since fifth grade,” she said. “We’re good friends.”
Kline also praised the coaches for helping them reach their goals this season.
“They helped us out a lot,” she said. “I don’t know what we would have done without them. They help us individually, as well.”
Abby Rothwell credits the team’s close bond and team work for their success, especially during the Diocesean championship game.
“We were down by a lot but we came back,”she said. “It was nerve wracking, but we pushed through it. We’re really good friends and we all help each other out.”