Perseverance in the playoffs


Photo provided by: Veronica Picart

On Tuesday Feb. 22, the varsity basketball team played Oak Ridge High School in the semi-regional game and students showed up in large numbers to support the team. “Even though we lost, that was one of the most fun and loud games I’ve ever played in,” junior Eric Vandendriessche said. “Coach Cuff and Coach Anderson said that it was the most crowded they have ever seen at our gym. I think the student section was huge for us that game and every game because they are big morale boosters and keep our energy high, but I will definitely always remember that game.”

Makayla Martindale, Sports Editor

Going into the semi-regional championship with a packed student section and high spirits, the varsity basketball team played Oak Ridge High School on Tuesday Feb. 22, in a long-anticipated rematch. The team played Oak Ridge earlier in the season and won 59-54, causing the other team to come back with vengeance. After a long-fought game, Oak Ridge won 52 to 49 in the first overtime, knocking the Patriots out of the postseason playoffs. 

Although the score was neck-to-neck the entire game, overtime proved difficult, as the home team trailed by eight for a majority of the period. 

“We got off to a slow start in overtime, so the boys had to battle back from eight points down,” boys varsity basketball coach Michael Cuff said. “I wish we wouldn’t have turned the ball over as much as we did, but overall the guys were incredible all season, and played especially well the night of our game.”

Junior Eric Vandendriessche, aptly named Player of the Game, recalled what he believed to be the standout play in such a critical game, as he scored a three-pointer within the final minute of the game.

“When we were heading into overtime, I was optimistic and definitely tired as well, but I think a big play for us was when I made a three-pointer with about 40 seconds left to bring the score within six points,” Vandendriessche said. “It was kind of a desperation play for me, but luckily it went in.”

Prior to the season-ending loss, the team had been riding a seven-game win streak and, over the course of the season, broke the school’s record for most wins in a single season, despite having doubts about being a strong competitor early in the season.

“We started off 1-2 and then finished up 25-5 and had the most wins in school history,” Cuff said. “The boys believed in themselves and more importantly, each other. That’s what made this season an incredible one.”

Part of the reason that they were able to continue to have faith in their abilities during these high-pressure environments was due to the growing student section. As the number of students that showed up to support the team increased and became more involved, the atmosphere of each game significantly changed.

“The student section is crazy,” junior Quannah Redman said. “Everyone is so hyped and it’s so much fun, but I think that we positively impact our team because we are really loud and can intimidate the other team by getting into their heads, while showing massive support for our team.”

After a monumental season, the players will reminisce on their accomplishments and growth, while awaiting the opportunity to play again next year. 

“Our team grew tremendously throughout the season, mainly by increasing our trust in one another on and off the court,” Vandendriessche said. “The team gelled great together and everyone knew their role on the team because of that trust that we developed, which made the season so successful and I am looking forward to playing with these guys again next year.”