By Brett Tieman
“We’re playing with house money right now. We weren’t supposed to still be playing and we are, so they shouldn’t feel any pressure. We’re playing a team with seven losses so we have a good shot at winning, and hopefully, we can get through to Saturday.” – Head Coach Mark Spigarelli
The girls basketball team is headed off to sectionals tonight to face Camdenton. This matchup comes after the Cats earned the district championship last Thursday night when they upset heavy favorite Rock Bridge.
Even though Rock Bridge was favored on paper, Head Coach Mark Spigarelli let the girls know prior to tip-off that they could win.
“We told the girls that they were probably better than us, but not so much that we didn’t have a chance. We reminded them that last year Lee’s Summit had a .500 record and made it to the final four. We’re in a similar situation and just needed to go out, play well and see what would happen, and it turned out pretty good for us,” Spigarelli said.
The senior girls also got the team ready for the game with a successful pregame talk. The positive relationships the team has formed throughout the season played a large role in the upset.
“In our pregame talk, we made it known that everyone needed to keep their head in it because on paper everyone knew Rock Bridge was the favorite, but we knew that if we played how we had of late and just kept everything positive towards each other, we’d be great,” senior Reggie Kanagawa said.
When it came time to play the girls were clicking on all cylinders. Highlighting some of the standout performances, Spigarelli named virtually every player who had minutes.
“We shot the ball really well and played great defense. We made Rock Bridge shoot poorly. Part of that was our defense, and part of that was them just having a bad night shooting. That was a big part of success,” Spigarelli said.
This team has come a long way since starting the season 0-6. At the start of the season, the girls weren’t playing as a team and didn’t have the trust in each other that makes a winning formula.
“I think something just clicked, and all the girls bought into playing with each other and the atmosphere became much more positive, and I think getting the first win of the season against Park Hill really helped get momentum going,” Kanagawa said.
Spigarelli feels that click that Kanagawa mentioned wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the leadership that she and the other seniors showed during the rough start.
“A large part of (the turnaround) was thanks to the seniors. Sy’miah (Smith), Angelica (Andrews) and Reggie were always out there saying ‘don’t give up, keep working hard’ and I believe when we started seeing a little bit of success the other players started buying in,” Spigarelli said.
Against all odds, the girls are still playing and they feel as though they have nothing to lose and are taking that mentality into every game.
“We’re playing with house money right now. We weren’t supposed to still be playing and we are, so they shouldn’t feel any pressure. We’re playing a team with seven losses so we have a good shot at winning, and hopefully, we can get through to Saturday,” Spigarelli said.
Since the victory last Thursday, the team hasn’t gotten lost in celebration and are working hard to prepare for the game tonight.
“We’ve been practicing hard, and analyzing film on the other team and how they play so that we’ll be ready to go on Wednesday,” Kanagawa said.
The girls play tonight at State Fair Community College in Sedalia against Camdenton, and a victory will keep their season alive into Saturday.