After a slow start to the season, the Wellsboro girl’s basketball team won the NTL showcase and qualified for districts. Head coach Maureen Poirier was willing to sit down and discuss the Lady Hornets’ season, from the difficult start to winning the NTL showcase to throwing dodgeballs pregame.
Deciding which moment stands out as the high point can be difficult in a season full of grit and determination. When asked what the high point of the season was for the Lady Hornets, coach Poirier said, “The NTL showdown against Sayre. Early in the season we competed against Sayre in the first game that we were really in but we ended up losing by seven points. That was in December. Then we played them for the championship showdown game and we ended up beating them by 13 points. That kind of showed how far we had come from the beginning to the end of the season. That was by far the best game we played together as a team offensively and defensively.”
Since that first meeting the team had undergone changes on offense and defense. Coach Poirier said, “We made some adjustments in January with our defense and offense. We were playing a lot of man and we switched to a 1-2-1 zone. We put in a full court pressure defense, which really made a difference. We changed some things on offense and as the season progressed we got better and better.”
“The team goal at the beginning of the year was to win the NTL and we did that by beating Towanda. By winning the NTL we got to go to the showcase,” Poirier said. She added, “Honestly, I think the team reached a higher level than I expected. In January, we were still fighting to be .500 and we ended up being the fifth seed for districts and winning the whole NTL Showcase. We definitely achieved above our goals and higher than I thought we would.”
After such a difficult start to the season, the team could have been discouraged but the girls’ determination to get better was one of the major reasons for their success throughout the rest of the year. Coach Poirier said, “They never gave up. They always remained positive on and off the court. I think because of their dedication and determination that we had a vast area of individual improvement on the team and as each player improved, the team improved.”
The turning point for the Lady Hornets season came against Athens. Coach Poirier described that game as the moment that encapsulated Wellsboro’s season. She said, “I remember our pregame talk was on being tough and what it meant to be a tough player. I told the girls there was no doubt they were tough and they needed to play tough that night. At that point, that was our first big win. We lost to them early on and then we came back and beat them. From that point on we just kept getting better and better. That was the turning point where they started to believe in themselves and started to play together as a team.”
Part of the camaraderie that really united this year’s team was the ability to have fun.
Enter the yellow dodgeball.
As part of the pregame ritual, the Lady Hornets had a yellow dodgeball that served as a stress reliever and source of entertainment. The ball traveled with the team to all their road games. Poirier said, “Before our district game we had over an hour of just kind of sitting around because you can’t be on the court with a basketball until 30 minutes before the game. They are just sitting around. So, I told them to go get the yellow ball. They brought it out and we started playing this passing game and the girls said, ‘coach this is boring.’ Instead, they started playing dodgeball and mushroom ball on the court. They are beaning each other and just having fun getting rid of their pregame jitters.”
Next year the Lady Hornets will bring back seven players that played varsity time this year including three starters. Coach Poirier is looking forward to what next year might bring with the amount of experienced girls she has returning as well as this being the second season under her system. She feels there is a foundation that the team can build upon.