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Girls basketball team reflects on state tournament

The girls basketball team made it to the semifinals in this year’s state tournament. Despite losing one of their starters to an ACL injury, the girls feel proud of their accomplishments this season and look on to set higher goals next year.

Deniz Ince, Reporter

Rachael Saunders '18 cheers her team on after being sidelined with an ACL injury.

The plan going into the girls basketball state tournament was to win it all. That all changed about halfway through the first quarter of the first game when Rachael Saunders ’18 fell and injured her knee, taking her out of the tournament.

“We really wanted to win. That was the goal the whole season. It definitely got harder when Rachael tore her ACL that first round so our mentality was just [to] survive and advance as far as we can,” Emma Koch ’19 said.

After the tournament ended for the Women of Troy, it was announced that Saunders had suffered from an ACL tear. At the time of competition, the team had to step up to fill the role of one of their starters.

“Rachael’s a great player. She can guard. Coach usually puts her [guarding] one of the best players on the other team, so we needed someone to be able to step up on defense,” Logan Cook ’18 said. “That’s what Cailyn Morgan [’19] did and she did a good job. [In terms of] scoring, everyone needed to contribute more points.”

The girls beat Waukee 40-38, avenging their loss from the previous year that denied them a trip to the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

I think our effort was really good the entire time. There was never a time I thought we could give more effort.”

— Emma Koch

“We were all pretty proud of ourselves after that game, but you kind of have to flush it away pretty soon because the next game is like the next day,” Koch said. “You kind of have to get over that and be like ‘We have another game. We can’t be satisfied.’

In preparation to play the 2017 Class 5A state champions, the team tried to learn from experience, as the girls had already played West Des Moines Valley this season and lost by five points at home.

“We kind of knew how they played. Our coaches will step in and pretend to be players from their team so we can practice guarding. We watched some film but mostly our coaches just told us to play our game,” Koch said.

Despite ending the first half of the game more than five points ahead, West Des Moines Valley came back in the second half to defeat the Women of Troy 55-48.

“Valley went on a roll. They weren’t missing shots at all, so they got up. I think we got a little discouraged when we were down ten points, but then we had that 8-0 run so that brought us back in the game,” Cook said. “I think just that we had that run a little too late and we just couldn’t finish at the end.”

I think we’re so close to being great, so I think we’ll practice a lot harder [and] work a lot in the off-season. I think we have a really good chance next year, a really good chance.”

— Logan Cook

Although the season did not end with a state championship, Koch was proud of her team for continuing to fight through it.

“I think our effort was really good the entire time. There was never a time I thought we could give more effort. We played together as a team, no one was selfish at all even though it was a big stage,” she said.

Koch was chosen as the Scheels Athlete of the Week for her efforts at the state tournament, even referred to as a “rebounding machine.”

Additionally, Cook was awarded a spot on the all-state team upon the completion of the state tournament.

“It was a lot of fun, standing up there with great players. All those players are super great basketball players. It was cool standing up with them,” she said.

As for next year, the girls are already planning to do even better than they did this year.

“I think we’re so close to being great, so I think we’ll practice a lot harder [and] work a lot in the off-season. I think we have a really good chance next year, a really good chance,” Cook said. “Being so close this year but not reaching our goals is going to motivate us to work even harder next year.”

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Girls basketball team reflects on state tournament