It’s been a very successful two-year run for the Miami Trace girls eighth grade basketball team.
The team recently finished an undefeated season, going 16-0.
In the 2021-22 season, as seventh-graders, the team finished 17-1 for an outstanding two-year mark of 33-1.
They have learned much about the game of basketball from two veteran coaches.
“This group of girls has been extremely lucky the past couple of years to be coached by very experienced, very good coaches in Julie Garringer for fifth and sixth grades and Dennis Overstake in seventh grade,” eighth grade head coach Payge Smith said.
“They are also one of the most disciplined and hard working teams I’ve seen, especially at this age level,” Smith said. “For example, the day before our first tournament game we did not have school, so we were not allowed to practice. We opened the gym the next morning at 6:30 a.m. for any girls that wanted to get extra work in and we had almost our entire team show up. Every single player on this team will try to do exactly what you ask them to do, and if they do not know how they will work until they are able. They are always trying to be better at everything they do.”
With the number one seed Miami Trace earned a bye in the first round of the tournament on Jan. 30.
Miami Trace hosted the second round on Feb. 1, defeating Chillicothe, 33-14.
Then the championship game on Feb. 3 was predetermined to be hosted by Hillsboro. Miami Trace played McClain and won, 28-20.
As a seventh-grade team, Miami Trace lost to McClain early last season by one point.
“That left a sour taste in their mouths ever since,” Smith said. “They went on to beat them in the second round of league play and again for the tournament championship as seventh graders.
“When we got our schedule for this year and saw we played McClain first, we knew we had work to do,” Smith said. “McClain has some very talented players in this class, as well, and they always put up a good fight. Our team consisted of the same 11 players from last year, losing only one who decided to focus on other sports.
But even further, many of these girls have been playing together since early elementary school,” Smith said. “They are all friends on and off the court and truly enjoy spending time together. When I inherited this team I knew how lucky I was to have a group of girls with so much talent, athleticism, and drive, but my main goal at the beginning of the season was that they had fun, also.
“This can’t be statistically measured, but I would hope that if you asked any of the girls on the team, they would say they had as much fun as I did. They have made me a better coach and I am truly lucky to have experienced this season with them.”