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Searching for a Start: Wins Scarce for SoRo, Woodstock Girls

  • In the locker room before the game members of the South Royalton girls basketball team Kylie Hebard, left, Iris Hudson, Blake Southworth, Lily Hudson, and Chloe Nielson cheer "I believe that we will win." (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Before the start of their game Woodstock coach Jason Johnson goes over a play with players Savannah Sheehan, left, and Riley Earle, in South Royalton, Vt., on Feb. 12, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The South Royalton girls basketball team puts their fists together just before walking onto the court for their game with Woodstock on Feb. 12, 2018 in South Royalton. Both teams were looking for their first win this season. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Natalie Stevens and South Royalton's Hannah White chase down the ball during their game in South Royalton, Vt., on Feb. 12, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • South Royalton coach David Davis watches his team during their game with Woodstock, in South Royalton, Vt., on Feb. 12, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

South Royalton — The joy of winning and the pain of losing were apt to be intensified on Monday night at the South Royalton School as two girls basketball teams both sought their first victory of the season.

The host Royals accomplished their mission by defeating Woodstock, 24-18, behind nine points from Iris Hudson.

“Oh my God, such a relief,” said South Royalton coach David Davis, whose team improved to 1-12. “It wasn’t one of the better games we played, but nevertheless a win is a win.”

The Wasps, who were led by Savannah Sheehan’s eight points, fell to 0-14.

If they weren’t already, Davis and Woodstock coach Jason Johnson have both gotten good at finding silver linings in the face of routine defeat.

Davis was quick to point to the bigger picture during Monday’s postgame debrief.

“The handwriting was on the wall pretty early that we were going to struggle this year,” Davis said. “So our approach really has been that basketball is kind of more of like a metaphor for life. I’m trying to teach these kids lessons about, ‘This stuff is going to happen to you in life and how you react to it defines who you are as a person.’ ”

The Royals encountered an early hardship when senior forward Grace Pease was sidelined with a torn ACL before the season began. That left Hudson as the lone senior on the squad. The captain acknowledged that the season has been trying.

“It’s hard, but I know that every day we’re getting better,” she said. “I know, for a lot of kids, it was very hard knowing we hadn’t won. … But I kind of knew we would have our night.”

Hudson tries to help her teammates stay positive.

“We do a lot of chants that will help everyone,” she said. “And we talk a lot about how to improve.”

Davis, in his second year coaching the Royals, seems to understand that it’s often darkest before the dawn.

“We all want to hang a banner on the wall,” Davis said. “And some day, there’s no doubt in my mind that some of these kids will be part of that.”

If South Royalton does that in the near future, it will be as part of a cooperative with Whitcomb High, which is set to begin next year when the two schools merge. Davis may or may not be the coach.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Davis said. “My name is going to go back in the hat, I hope, and I hope I’m a good candidate for the position. … Between the two teams, there’s a lot of talent, so there’s no doubt right off the bat we can be a contending team next year.”

As for the Wasps, Johnson is aiming to stay the course.

“It’s slow gains,” Johnson said when asked to assess the team’s current campaign. “That’s what we’re really focused on. Even though it’s tough when you have the win-loss record we do, I see it on the floor on a daily basis — the small improvements that we’re making.”

Adjusting to high coaching turnover has been a difficulty for Woodstock.

“Going into this year, I think we all kind of knew it was a rebuild year,” said Brooke Heston, one of three seniors on the Wasps along with Emma Walker and Cammie Rediker. “Fourth coach in four years; that’s hard as it is, so that was kind of something. But you know, we’re all keeping our heads up, playing our hardest every game.”

Although she’s understandably eager for her team to get a win, Heston was far from demoralized following her team’s latest setback.

“It’s toward the end of season,” she said. “We’re coming together. We’re getting closer.”