If anyone underestimates the Troy High School girls basketball team going into the Class B Western Divisional Tournament, the Lady Trojans plan to send them a wakeup call.
Though the Lady Trojans are ranked third in their district, their overall record is 7-9 for the season.
“These girls, it’s a credit to them,” said Head Coach Justin Young “Maybe they hit a little slump mentally halfway through the season, they’re a pretty mentally tough group though.”
Their first game of the tournament is going to be against Loyola Sacred Heart High School, an opponent that beat Troy 61-28 during their last match up of the regular season.
If the tournament game is a repeat, the team will have to take what they can learn and bounce back for their next game, said senior Allie Coldwell.
Despite the odds, though, the girls aren’t planning to have to bounce back.
“I think we can beat anyone if we play our best,” said senior Kaitlyn Downey.
Even though they are down senior starter Aurora Becquart, the team has managed to keep pretty close even in their losses right up to halftime, Downey said.
“I think if we just stay out of foul trouble, we have a good shot to win any game,” she said.
“We’re kind of like the dark horse — no one expects anything from us. So I think that will help us too,” Downey added.
Young said it’s on the Lady Trojans whether they take advantage of those expectations.
“These girls, they’ll bring the energy. The big thing is how aggressive we are,” he said. “We have nothing to lose, being the underdog, so we need to have that dog mentality and come out and just start biting right away.”
Coldwell said that it will be key for the team to keep their intensity throughout the game.
“We can’t stop shooting, we can’t stop playing defense and let easy buckets go by,” she said.
Even with fundamentals such as hitting free throws, the Lady Trojans have focused on putting themselves in a game mindset when they are practicing, Downey said.
On the flip side, Coldwell said that when they are in the tournament games, it’s important to focus on the basket as if they were in practice, tuning out the crowds and the pressure of the environment.
“Definitely stay focused into the game,” she said.
Being the underdog also takes some pressure off for teammates who may be nervous about playing at the tournament level, Downey said.
“If you just play like you have nothing to lose, just play loose, I think that’s the best thing they can do,” she said.
Regardless how the games go, is there something the team’s seniors look forward to taking away from the tournament experience and their final season of high school basketball?
“The gift bags,” senior Grace Dolan quipped.
Dolan said she will look back on the relationships they have built as a team, the experience of putting all her effort out there, and the memories of the season.
“Definitely the bus rides,” Coldwell added.
The three Troy seniors have played together since sixth grade, they said.
Basketball has made their friendships stronger, Downey said.
“It’s been fun. It’s sad to see it end,” Downey said.
Young said he coached his first game of girls basketball when the current seniors were in eighth grade.
“It was fun then, all we want to do is go have some fun now,” he said.
Noting the Joe Namath quote, Young said that confidence leads to fun, which leads to amazing things.
“If we have that mentality, I think we’ll be fine — win, lose, draw,” Young said. “Basketball’s a game.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a blip on the radar of life, but we want to make it a positive experience.”