- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
Although the ultimate goal of a Western Valley District championship and a regional berth eluded them, 2009-2010 was a breakthrough year for the Comets varsity girls’ basketball team.
The Lady Comets won a school-record 18 games and finished with a 7-1 record in the Western Valley District, capturing its second straight Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament along the way.
Fate and bad luck in the form of weather-induced delays forced the Comets to play four games in five days down the stretch, three on the road, and that ultimately caught up with the Comets.
Despite the lingering disappointment with how the season ended, Comets Head Coach Matthew McCargo was satisfied the Comets left every bit of energy they had on the court.
“It has been a good year, and it ended on a sad note, but as I’ve said before all good things must come to an end,” said McCargo.
“We couldn’t control the weather and that hurt us, but it is what it is, and we just had to play the schedule in front of us.
“Still, I don’t think it was fair to the girls or our school, but I think everybody was proud that we went in and played, didn’t grumble and gave our best effort.
“When you give your best effort, that’s all you can do.
“I told the girls go ahead and do what you have to in order to get over the way the season ended, but on Monday I want you to celebrate.”
A few of the starters were really taking it hard after the Franklin County game, but the sun still rose the following day.
“One plus is that the morning after the loss the sun came out, and it was a pretty day, so I think that helped us to heal,” McCargo pointed out.
“It was a beautiful sunny day where you could get outside. It helped me, and I know it helped the girls.”
He hopes the record number of wins (18) would be something the girls could look back on with pride, among scores of other accomplishments.
“We played this year for last year’s seniors, Whitney Womack, Lauren Daniel, Aaron Hodge-Moreno and Brittany Roberts, and we told the girls we want to keep that tradition going,” noted McCargo.
Halifax loses four seniors, Whitney McCargo, Tiffany Wilson, Nia Brown and Miyisha Younger, with coach McCargo having served as coach and mentor for all of them for a number of years in both scholastic and travel leagues.
“Having a winning season is only the beginning, and the task now is to keep the program going at a high level,” he explained.
“We have a lot of work to do, and the girls are not through. They have some work to do in the community, and we want them to work with the younger girls and be role models.
“It takes a lot of work and dedication, and it took eight or nine years to get the fruits of our labor from this group of girls, starting with the recreation leagues, the travel teams, on up through middle and high school.
“We had hoped it would kick in last year, and we saw signs of it, but the girls were just too immature to win close games.
“They matured, and we reaped the rewards of all our hard work this year.”
McCargo noted the effort of parents, fans and other supporters of girls’ basketball in helping bring home a winning season.
“The parents traveled up and down the road all these many years and took them to the gym,” explained McCargo.
“It took parents going into their pockets to pay for hotel rooms and entry fees, food, and insurance for the different tournaments.
“That’s what it takes, and it also takes the middle school continuing to be competitive and being on the same page working towards the same goal.
“The job doesn’t end here when we have girls who want to play at the next level, and that’s our job at the high school, to win games and prepare the girls for college.”
The Beat Goes On
As a coach, McCargo feels he still has some work to do as a coach.
“I looked at things on the floor, little things that I didn’t coach, like drawing a charge,” he observed.
“That may have helped us win the last two games, and it’s just something we didn’t work on. There are other things I took note of that we need to work on, and I blame myself for that.”
“I’m not perfect,” continued McCargo. “I’m a recreation director serving as coach and I do my best just like I ask of the girls,”
“It’s a mutual trust, and one thing I do know is the girls play hard. They make mistakes, and I fuss at them, but when the game’s over, it’s over, and we’re still family.
“These girls don’t complain and didn’t use fatigue as an excuse for losing those last two games, even if they had a right to.
“One of our mottos is one team, one effort, and before we go onto the floor, I ask them if they’re willing to work.”
Work Begins For Next Year
“I’m in my second year, and I listen to some who have been doing it awhile, like Wayne Shelton, who told me about going to regionals for 16 or 17 years, and that for the last two years it’s been different,” recalled McCargo.
“I had to smile because we’ve had a winning season, and we didn’t make it to regionals, but it feels pretty good.
“The girls coming back are already asking when they can get on a travel team, or start with the weights, and they love the atmosphere created by the two buses of fans and the pep band at Franklin County for the playoff game and seeing Mr. Randolph (HCHS Principal Albert Randolph) and Allen (HCHS Athletic Director Allen Lawter) at the girls’ games.”
“The last game had probably the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of for a girls’ only game,” McCargo added.
“We always want to play in front of the boys, so the fans can see how good we are and how hard we play.
“The girls have T-shirts that say it’s more than just girls’ basketball. They play just as hard as the boys, and they’re just as passionate about it.
“I have to think they felt special, and their wearing their new sweatsuits around school made them feel that way.
“Now we have girls at the high school who are anxious to try out for the team next year.
“We’re going to see that for years to come, and I don’t think it’ll stop because these seniors are leaving, because of the example they set.”