The Norwood High School girls basketball team, aiming to avenge their 2012 title loss at this year’s 1A State Basketball Tournament, were once again stymied in their efforts to bring home the Championship trophy.
But the team didn’t come home empty handed, as the girls fought back after their 45-35 quarterfinals loss to the Stratton Eagles to eventually win the Consolation Round trophy in their Saturday victory over the Caliche Buffaloes, 47-34.
The boys also lost in the first round of the tournament, but also fought back to win a berth into the Consolation Final, in which they lost to the #3-ranked team Fleming.
“Some teams would have lost the first game and given up after that. But our kids hung in there, refocused, and made a new set of goals,” said NHS boys and girls basketball coach Greg King of his team’s State Tournament performances.
It was the boys’ second and the girls’ third consecutive trip to the State Tournament.
Ranked number one going into the tournament, the Lady Mavericks had some big shoes to fill, and their coach admits that the girls were nervous on the court in their first game of the weekend against Stratton, and never really got in sync with one another.
But the tables turned on Friday, when the Norwood girls met Belleview Christian, a team known for its aggressive, physical play. “We knew exactly what kind of match that was going to be – ugly,” said Coach King of the Belleview Christian battle, where Norwood found its groove defensively and fought for the hard-won victory 25-21.
The girls continued to perfect their game plan in the weekend’s final game on Saturday against Caliche. Shania Snow, Jordan Williams and Makayla Gordon dominated play on the court, and with 26 points from NHS senior Harlie Williams, the girls methodically led their team to a the ultimate 47-34 victory over Caliche.
In the girls action, #4-ranked Wiley went on to win in the championship final.
On the boys side, Norwood was dealt a difficult hand when they faced off against #1-ranked Shining Mountain in the quarterfinals – a team that went on to play #2-ranked McClave in the championship final (McClave was ultimately awarded the trophy.)
But the early weekend loss didn’t diminish the boys’ spirits, and the team soldiered on to win a berth into the consolation final thanks to their 53-48 win over Grenada in the Consolation Semi-finals. “We controlled the pace, and executed extremely well offensively and defensively,” King said, noting that players Caden Colson and senior Brad Campbell set hard-working examples and the rest of the team truly stepped up to the challenge.
By game three, however, the team didn’t have enough steam to keep the momentum going, and fell to Fleming 54-38.
Coach King, who has witnessed his fair share of championship tournaments, said that this year’s competition was especially stiff, specifically in the girls’ bracket. “More times than not, the number one seed doesn’t win. Sometimes the best team doesn’t win at all – it’s the best team for three nights that wins. But it’s a tribute to these kids that they had the resilience to come back” and post wins over the weekend, he said.
The goal now, he said, is to start aiming for another trip to State next year.