Grizzlies fall to Faith, place second in state


The women’s varsity basketball team placed second in the state after a devastating loss to the Faith Lutheran Crusaders, and came just three points shy of winning the state championship for the second year in a row.

The Grizzlies fell behind in the first two quarters with a halftime score of 27-15. In the second half, the team hustled, getting back in the game with a score of 38-36 by the end of the third. From then on, the game was neck and neck, with the Grizzlies just one shot away from putting the game in over time, but ultimately fallig short with a final score of 50-47.

“I feel like we worked hard to get to state out of 35 teams and it was good,”  explained Shanteriel Thompson (Red) of the team’s performance. “But in the final game we didn’t handle our business in the second half.”

Varsity Coach William Hemberger agreed, but noted that the team didn’t have enough time to come back after a difficult first half.

“It’s not that we didn’t put our hearts into it,” said Hemberger. “It’s just that we didn’t have enough time.”

The women’s varsity team went undefeated in conference, with a record of 14-0, a repeat of last year. Despite losing the championship, Hemberger believes the girls are more experienced and more knowledgeable about the game than last year.  With hustle and more effort, he expects the team to take the title back next year.

“Losing humbles you. It will make us better and we’ll be back stronger next year,” he said. “It will make the players hungrier and work harder in the off season.

Hemberger acknowledged that when he took over the team two years ago the team had a chip on their shoulder after winning only one game that season. Falling just short of the championship this year, Hemberger said the team once again will fight to get the chip off their shoulder and prove themselves.

While the team easily beat Faith Lutheran three times throughout the season, they struggled to keep up in the final game when Faith came out with a man-to-man defense rather than a press. Faith’s continuous losses to the Grizzlies seem to have motivated them.

“Last year we were hunting everybody else trying to prove what we wanted to be. This year we are the hunted,” Hemberger explained of their position as last year’s champions.

Since taking over the team two years ago, Hemberger has had higher expectations than the average coach, expecting players to work hard even in the off season. Hemberger also regularly includes men in the practice squad to help toughen up the women, and states that it has been a tremendous advantage.

“In order to be great we have to keep working as a team,” said point guard Aliana Reale.

In addition to their success in the division, the team is also comfortable defeating out of state teams. The Grizzlies finished 29-4 overall, with 10 of their competitors from out of state. While these games are not as important as in season games, Hemberger said they are essential for becoming experienced with different brands of basketball.

Hemberger also scheduled a game against Centennial High School, who have won the state championship in Division I eight times since 2002, and are ranked 1 in the state and 20 nationally.

“Centennial is a great team. Playing them just exposed our weakness as a team and now we know what to improve on next time,” explained shooting guard Essence Booker.

Hemberger states that he and his team are not afraid of losing, and will use their games against difficult teams as learning experiences. Losing, however, is not a common occurence. In the past two years, the team has gone 59-5.