Off to hot start, unbeaten Spring Grove girls' basketball team looks to end losing ways
- Spring Grove is off to a 6-0 start, including 3-0 in Division I, putting it in first place.
- The Rockets haven't had a winning season since the 2010-11 campaign.
- Sophomore Haley Wagman leads Spring Grove in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game.
Every day, the players on the Spring Grove girls' basketball team are reminded of the program's recent down years.
While it's a young team, many of the Rockets have been part of the program's losing ways over the last several seasons.
For the Rockets who weren't around for those losing seasons, the players and coaches who were there for the tough times talk about ending the losing on a daily basis. It's used as a reminder about what this year's team is working hard to remedy.
So far in 2017-18, Spring Grove has been successful in that push, getting off to a 6-0 start overall, including 3-0 in York-Adams League Division I, putting it atop the standings.
"We have girls that are hungry to win and they want to win and they're very dedicated," head coach Holly Strait said. "They buy-in, they love being at practice, they work very hard, they love playing games and they know they have a role and they have to fulfill that role in order for us to be successful."
The last time the Rockets had a winning season came in 2010-11, six years ago. During that campaign, the team won the Y-A League Division I title with a 12-2 division record, but finished just 12-11 overall.
If you want to find the last time Spring Grove had a truly dominant team, you have to look at 2008-09, when the Rockets were 18-11 overall and finished second in Division II. That was followed by an 18-6 campaign in 2009-10 and a co-Division II championship.
In the past six seasons, however, Spring Grove has finished .500 just two times and had losing years the other four. Things have been even more bleak the last few seasons, with the team combining to go 9-56 overall and 2-34 in division play.
This year, however, appears different, at least to start. The six wins are already more than the program has had in a single season over the past three years, and the three division wins are also the most in one season during that time.
"The girls are tired of being at the bottom," said Strait, who's in her third year as the varsity head coach and sixth total with the program. "They want to be at the top and they want to be successful."
Aside from this year's team being relatively young, it's also not very deep.
Strait's rotation rarely extends past seven players, with three of them being sophomores and one freshman. It doesn't exactly seem like a recipe for success, but it's working for the Rockets.
Part of that is because so many of the younger players who see big minutes are mature beyond their age.
"When I look at these girls, to me, I don't even look at age," Strait said. "They're very mature ladies. They have high basketball IQ's. Sometimes I have to stop and think, 'They are a sophomore.' They play at that elite level."
One of those younger players stepping up is sophomore Haley Wagaman. She currently leads Spring Grove in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game. At second on the team is fellow sophomore Lexi Hoffman, who's putting up 11.7 points per game.
That type of production from underclassmen has the Rockets primed for sustained success long after this season.
That's in the future, however, and the team is focused on the now. Being 6-0 is nice, but there's still plenty of basketball left to be played this year.
Strait understands that, especially with how competitive the league is as a whole. This team wants to get back to the league tournament and hopefully districts. Those are the season-long goals.
On a day-to-day basis, the expectation is to get better every day, with each practice and game marking a step away from the days of losing.
So far, in that regard, you can say this season has already been a success.
"I have expectations for the girls and they meet those daily," Strait said. "Each day is a new day and we really have to focus on the task at hand."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org