Tuesday evening saw the Wilcox Chargers girls basketball team lose 45-37 to the Aragon Dons in the Central Coast Section Division II Semifinal. However, the final loss of the season is not the full story. The loss is merely the final chapter of what was a thrilling novel of a season. Despite playing their second-straight campaign without a single senior on their roster, the Chargers saw a tremendous turnaround in 2017-18 under Head Coach Justin Fujihara. Last year the squad finished their league season with a 1-11 record. This year they went 8-4, advancing through to the quarterfinal round of CCS where they beat Westmont 56-49 on Feb. 24.
“It was all positive this season, everything was positive,” chimed coach Fujihara after Tuesday’s loss. “After the past couple seasons that we’ve had, everything this year was positive. Everyday was fun being in the gym, even the tougher, hard-working days. These kids gave us everything. All of them were willing to work together to make this a fun season, which makes it all worthwhile.”
“We all really enjoyed this season, especially the girls from last year. We really appreciated it, especially with the new young talent coming in to help us,” noted junior captain Anna Neeley. “It was a good time. We had a good run. Just can’t wait to bounce back next year.”
The Chargers’ rotation this season was seven deep with strong players between Neeley, fellow captain Elise Corwin, freshman twin sisters Maison and Hali’a Yee, Ellen Collins, Natalie Getz and Stacey Klassen. All seven will likely return to the team next season. Plus freshman center Amanda McDowell will likely play a bigger role. McDowell has a lot of potential to get stronger in the paint as she gets older.
Of the aforementioned core players, two of whom who were not highlighted as much this season were Getz and Klassen. The former a freshman and latter a junior, these two brought a lot to the table, particularly on the defensive end. That said, whenever they were called upon to take a rare outside shot, they often got the job done.
“Stacey is a great defender, she is our rock on defense, she makes sure we all play defense correctly and rotate to the right spots. And she will get on you if you don’t,” remarked Corwin after the win over Westmont. “We need players like that who are a spark on defense. Natalie is great because she gives us size, can play defense and knock down her shot. They definitely don’t get the recognition, but I think they are just as big a part of our team as anybody.”
“Nat and Stace are great defenders,” added Neeley after Tuesday’s loss. “Even though they don’t score as much, they do have a big impact on the court. I really appreciate them for all the hard work that they do. Once they step up on the court, it’s all hard work and dedication.”
While the overall season for the Chargers was a huge positive, there was understandable disappointment with the way it finished. Wilcox held a five-point lead after three quarters against Aragon, but stumbled in the fourth quarter. The good news for the Chargers is the entire team should be back next season and can use this season as motivation to try and get even further in 2018-19.