DiGregorio’s view from behind the bench (Dec. 12)

Sophia DiGregorio

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I have never witnessed the Panthers girls basketball team lose a game in the two years that I have been attending Derby High.

But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t games that have me on the edge of my seat.

Last night was one of the those games.

The Panthers took on the Maize Eagles, and it was the first time this season that the team trailed.

But the way that the Panthers and its coaching staff handled the feat was a living example of what the team stands by.

Being uncommon and leaving no doubt.

If I had to be completely honest my knowledge base of the game of basketball is very small, and I hope that being behind the bench this year will expand that.

But my knowledge really affects my perception of the game and sensing whether or not there is stress in a play that causes you to lose your lead.

At the beginning of the game, the Panthers beat the Eagles to the basket to score the first points.

But the Eagles wasted no time keeping up with the Panther’s offense.

This kind game really made me pay attention to the plays that were going on but not necessarily from a technical standpoint.

I looked at who was doing what and which player had possession of the ball most of the time.

And also the coaches’ reactions to certain plays.

Honestly watching coach Jodie Karsak during a game really trips me up sometimes because she does things that I know that she would never do in real life.

Earlier in the half, junior Tor’e Alford made a bad play and Karsak turned around and visually was really animated as she brought Alford to the bench,

Seeing stuff like that really made me feel like as a team we were in trouble.

The Panthers kept their lead into the half and what happened in the locker room confused me.

Myself as well as a few other managers brought the water bottle into the locker room and stayed around for what coach had to say.

Karsak walks into the locker room behind us and is like ‘that was a great quarter, guys’ — you better believe I took a double take.

This whole time I was under the impression that we were in distress.

From that point I learned that it’s important how you respond to the situation and the reaction of people in the stands are only surface level. The way that the coaches and the players react is more internal because they have to keep their mind right to be successful.

Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Maize scored and took the lead from the Panthers.

My heart just sank and everything that could possibly happen after just rushed through my mind.

It bothers me that I do that, but I guess if you look at it from a positive perspective, I start to rationalize certain things, which is a good life skill.

But I never lost hope. I just thought that if we don’t respond to what Maize is giving us, it is going to be minor miracle.

The Panthers do work miracles, so it was definitely possible.

After watching the state semifinal game in March, I am convinced they can handle just about anything.

By the end of the third quarter the Panthers got their lead back and their uncommon mentality started to shine.

Once Maize started to get tired, Derby took advantage built an even bigger lead.

The Panthers ended up on top with a ten point lead to win the game.

Both teams showed their true colors on the court at the very end.

When the clock ran the final seconds of the game, Derby still had a motor and Maize was barely moving.

The clock ran out and everyone was standing still.

After the game was over, the locker room was the place to be. Starting with coach coming in a giving them the last thoughts on the game and reflections, to food and celebratory jam sessions.

All of this happened with the future of the program right in the middle of it — there were middle school players in the stands and the two ball girls watching and learning from the example of the older girls.

The culture in and around the game in terms of the way Derby handles it is unlike anything I have ever seen in any other sport.

Every team has chemistry, a strong bond and a mindset for tackling adversity. The Panthers definitely have it, too.

And it doesn’t end after they step off the court.