By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg girls’ varsity basketball team’s historic season came to an end in its second playoff game against Olivet. The Bulldogs fell to the Eagles 48-33 before a packed home crowd.
Vicksburg came into the game with a 23-0 record after its 53-30 thrashing of Marshall a few days prior. However, the Eagles were the first team all year to find a way to stymie the Bulldog offense. The score was 15-2 after the first. A late basket by Scarlett Hosner was the only thing that kept Vicksburg from being shut out in the period.
“We picked the wrong night to not be able to make a shot,” Head Coach Tim Kirby said. “They made everything. They banked three 3-pointers. There may not be anything more frustrating than that.”
The Bulldogs did start to gain a little momentum in the second, pushing the score to 21-13 at the half. However, Vicksburg never got any closer than about six points to the Olivet lead—not due to a lack of trying either.
“I’m proud of my girls. They kind of punched us in the face early. We took their best shot, and we battled the entire game, we didn’t quit,” Kirby said.
Hannah DeVries was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs, putting up 9 points on three field goals and three free throws. Makayla Allen was right behind her with 8 points on two field goals and four free throws. Maddi Diekman and Kendra Cooley both had 5 points. Emma Steele had 3 points, Hosner had 2, and Tristin Abnet added a free throw.
“I’ve always said all season long if they play hard and give me everything they’ve got then I’ll never be disappointed with them,” Kirby said. “I’m disappointed in the outcome tonight obviously, but I don’t feel like it was because of our effort. We played hard the entire night. Olivet’s a good basketball team, take nothing away from them.”
Ultimately, the Bulldogs had three or four key missed three-pointers in the first and second that could have shifted the momentum. The team started shooting better in the second half of the game, but ultimately ran out of time for a comeback.
“I just told the girls in there: ‘Only one team can win the last game of the season, unfortunately, that’s not going to be us this year,’” Kirby said “But, we had the greatest season in Vicksburg girls’ history. Ever. You can’t take that away from them.”
While the season ended a lot sooner than the team had hoped, the Bulldogs have the benefit of an extremely young squad. Abnet and Amanda Laughery will be the only graduating seniors.
“You know, they (Abnet and Laughery) put in their time for four years. They did everything we asked of them. They were great leaders to our younger girls,” Kirby said. “We’re a really young team and those two were great leaders for us this year. Even though they didn’t play as many minutes as the younger ones did, they accepted their roles and just played hard. And that’s what we asked them to do.”
With such a young squad, Kirby is obviously hoping the team can continue the momentum into next season.
“We have three juniors and five sophomores this year. We hope to do the same thing next year. Hopefully we can get over this hump next year,” Kirby said. “It’s a group of girls that work their tails off. They work really hard, and they want to be great. And they had a great season, just cut a little short tonight.”
By Travis Smola