DUNLAP — Dan Ross won’t see the full extent his team’s accomplishments in the final box score.
Though the Concord girls’ basketball team finished its 6-17 season with an anti-climatic 59-21 loss to Warsaw (21-1) Friday, Feb. 8, Ross is proud of what his Minutemen — especially the seniors — made of the year and the way they fought the Tigers in the sectional semifinals.
Tasked with taming what Ross called the “three-headed monster” of Jennifer Walker-Crawford, Lindsay Baker and Nikki Grose, the undersized Minutemen managed to hold the trio to a relatively low 30 combined points.
It was Warsaw guard Brooklyn Harrison who sneaked up on Concord, coming off the bench to swipe the ball five times and score 11 points off of various fast-break layups.
Ross said the Minutemen had been focusing on scoring in the paint, knowing they’d have an opportunity to draw fouls against the bigger, taller Tigers. But by the half, Concord had only scored six points off of two Jade Iavagnilio 3-pointers early in the first quarter.
Things weren’t going according to plan, and Ross reminded his team of that fact in the locker room.
“We had been working all week on attacking the paint,” Ross said. “We thought the area there was where we could get shots. In the first half, we didn’t take one shot in that area.”
As it had all year, Concord kept its head high and buckled down in the face of a 25-point deficit.
The Minutemen scored their first 2-point bucket nine seconds into the third quarter and dished up another pair in the same period. Any chances of a Concord rally was squashed by increased Warsaw scoring. Plus, the Tigers turned the ball over only once the entire half.
“We just felt like if we could make a run and put a little pressure on them, and they just did not turn the ball over,” Russ said.
Though Concord couldn’t surmount Warsaw’s lead, Ross can’t help but be proud of the effort his team has made all year. After the game, he addressed seniors Taylor Milnamow, Anna Heck, Shanice Matthews and Dayana Watson.
“I told the seniors, each one of them, that I loved them,” Ross said. “This is a group that has been through three head coaches in three years. When I came in in May, I asked them to make drastic changes to themselves, not just as basketball players, but as people on and off the floor. In every case, they have tried to do that.”
From increased effort in practice to a general pride about being on the Concord basketball team, Ross said he’s thankful for a quartet of seniors who led the way.
“The fact that we could find four seniors that were selfless enough to change and make changes to themselves and make changes to themselves and they understood trying to change for the overall direction of the program,” he said.
That sort of effort isn’t always reflected in a sectional loss or in a 17-loss season. But it’s evident in the work ethic of the underclassmen.
“They work harder now because of the examples the seniors have laid out every day,” Ross said.