MIDDLEBURY — Consider this step one in a two-step process for the Concord girls basketball team.
The Minutemen have never won two games in the sectionals in the 2000s. Coach Dan Ross hopes to change that.
"I told our kids that we are trying to do things that haven't been done," he said. "So we're coming to make history Friday night."
The first hurdle was to get past a rowdy Elkhart Central team that played far outside of its 2-18 record. Concord had the Blazers' number early, taking an 11-1 lead in the first quarter, but Central rallied behind Daitriona Bonds to move within two points late in the fourth quarter.
From there, the Minutemen relied on sure-handed senior Alexis Williams to fend off Central from the free throw line. Williams sank eight of 12 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to push Concord to a 43-40 win.
The frustrating thing for coach Will Coatie isn't so much that Central's rally fell short, but that he didn't start his players in a full-court press in the first place. Once the Blazers cranked up the pressure, Concord began to crumble.
"All we did is we just went belly-to-belly," Coatie said. "We probably should have started out that way."
Central was led by a 26-point performance from Bonds, a junior. Coatie said Bonds' leadership emerged late in the season and that it'll be a thing to look forward to next year as a senior. In fact, despite a 2-18 finish marked by a 15-game losing streak in the middle of the season, Coatie is pleased with his group in general.
"That's been our season. We make some free throws and the game could be different, but we played hard from start to finish," he said. "I can't fault that in our young ladies. It's just a learning process. The Bulls had to learn it back in the day to get by the Pistons. For us, we just got to learn. The future is ripe for Central basketball. I couldn't be happier for our group."
Concord (8-12) has at least one more game before it can reflect on this season, and it's against Goshen, one of the two Northern Lakes Conference teams Concord beat this season. If the Minutemen can beat the Redskins (10-10) again, Concord will have reached its goal and the sectional championship game.
"These kids who have been through so much and work so hard don't want to give in," Ross said. "They don't want their season to end. We know (Goshen coach) Lenny (Krebs) has an unbelievable team that we battled this season, but they're really good and I know they're going to make adjustments to what happened earlier this year."