Gritty Boys Basketball Team Won’t Let a Loss Hold them Back
“Two of my proudest moments this year came after big losses,” says Jamie McCarty, Silverton High School’s first-year Boys Basketball Coach. “We came out the next game and snapped our heads off the pillow. We didn’t say ‘poor me’, we took control and we won our next games by thirty points.”
In fact, those two losses were the only ones the Silverton Foxes Basketball team experienced this year. They finished their season with an outstanding 25-2 record. Unfortunately for the Foxes, one of those losses came in the state tournament, knocking them down to the consolation bracket. They ultimately finished Fourth in the state.
“We didn’t lose a single game for two months,” McCarty said. “Which may have actually been a problem at the end. We’re still very happy with where we ended up.”
From the outset of the season, McCarty predicted success, though he says even he was surprised by the level the team reached this year.
“Coming in to this program, especially as a new coach… I knew they were a special team,” he said. “I knew they were hard workers… but to be probably a top 5 team in Silverton history? I didn’t know that. We had seven goals when we started this year, and we accomplished the first six. Number seven was to be the state champs. That was why our loss in the tournament was such a huge blow. It meant we couldn’t reach that seventh goal. But again, the life lessons we learned there were so important. Look at our score from the next day.”
The day after their 51-53 loss to Churchill, the Foxes beat Springfield 67-35.
“That’s the lesson and the value,” McCarty said. “Our kids didn’t feel sorry for themselves, they fought back.”
A Pair of Veterans Lead New Faces for the Lady Foxes Both On and Off the Court
That’s the number of players on this year’s Lady Foxes Basketball Team who had ever played Varsity High School basketball before this year. That didn’t seem to stop them — the Lady Foxes finished third in the state.
“It was a great year,” says Coach Tal Wold, “You never have expectations that you’re going to win a certain number of games. We lost eight girls from the year before.”
The two returners this year were Maggie Roth and Brooke McCarty, both seniors and impact players.
“Maggie Roth was league MVP,” Wold says. “Her numbers are good, but honestly there are players out there with better. The other coaches recognize there’s more with Maggie — they appreciate how hard she plays.”
For the Lady Foxes it wasn’t about returning a host of talented players this season, but rather building on a foundation of trust and consistency.
“You want the girls to learn to come together, to trust each other,” says Wold. “That’s how you build a program. That’s what we’ll do next year. We’ll start like we did this year, from ground zero, and hope to have the same coachability and work ethic.”
From the beginning of the year, Wold says those qualities were the keys to the program’s success.
“We had a much less successful summer season than years past,” he says. “We got blown out a few games, which is okay — that’s what summer’s for. The biggest thing about it was the girls’ reaction. They recognized they had to get better. We had so many girls who hadn’t played at that speed or level of physicality… we just knew we had to keep playing together.”
Speaking to the year’s results, Wold says he’s pleased.
“It was a great year. On top of everything else, our girls were 2nd in state in GPA for the 3rd year in a row with a 3.79. That’s not coaching. That’s work ethic and the effect of the whole community. Honestly we had kind of a perfect ending to the season – everyone played at the last game at Gill [Coliseum]. Our seniors got to play several minutes all together. This was a super easy team to coach, very low maintenance. It was a great end to a fun and positive year.”
Unified Basketball About More than Just Winning
Neal Glynn has coached Silverton High School’s Unified Basketball Program for both of the program’s two seasons.
“From the outset there was support,” says Glynn. “But last year we had such a great experience that this year was kind of crazy. Between twenty students, assistant coaches, a spirit squad, parents who take care of food, snacks, goodie bags, and just an overwhelming amount of social media support… We had twice as much or more support this year than last year.”
A program through the Special Olympics organization, Unified Basketball is a program designed to engage students in special populations more fully with other students their age and with the school community at large. The team is comprised of both special population and partner athletes, with the latter working for the success of the former.
“I think at this point we might have more students who want to be partner athletes than we have unified athletes,” Glynn says. “It really has been embraced by our students. I don’t think we have enough students for a second basketball team, but maybe we’ll get to the point that we have unified soccer, or unified softball. Maybe we have a bunch of unified sports and that’s how we grow the program.”
As for the partner athletes, Glynn says that it takes a certain type of student to get involved.
“They’re there for the unified athletes more than for themselves. They want to make sure the unified athletes experience success at the cost of them experiencing any kind of glory. It’s more about directing traffic. Those kids aren’t scoring — they don’t even take shots. They’re kids who are interested in special education, maybe they want to be a teacher… sometimes it’s just someone who wants to see other people be successful. They’re selfless, regardless.”
Silverton’s Unified team won their final tournament of the year, but Coach Glynn says that recognition is one of the least important aspects of the Unified program.
“It’s about the atmosphere it makes in the gym during he games, the atmosphere it creates in the halls, and in the assemblies when they’re recognized. It allows the kids to walk down the halls just that much more engaged than they would be otherwise. Unified Basketball gets them out there with the other kids.”
For Glynn, those connections are what he says makes the program so successful.
“Our unified athletes, just knowing they have a connection with other kids their age. We see it on their faces, we see it in how hard they work in practice and in games. They just want to compete. This is their outlet for that. Maybe what they have in common with their peers is a smaller set than most other kids their age might have… but this lets them experience that connection and build memories and maybe discover they have more in common than they thought.”
“This was a very special winter season for us,” adds Silverton High School Principal Wade Lockett. “Success is fun. It’s always a source of pride when you produce winning teams. Even more exciting was watching the way our coaches led and our kids responded. Our programs are anchored in the development of character, integrity, work-ethic, scholarship and leadership. These are the values these kids are learning on a daily basis. It’s not about wins and losses. However, the focus on these values leads to the kind of results we saw this year. I couldn’t be more proud to be a Fox when I watch this process play out for our students every day this season. To our teams, I say Congratulations on all of your success! You gave this community a great ride this winter!”