Nobody expects to have a basketball season go the way Lackawanna Trail’s girls team’s year has unfolded.
No wins until February can make for a long season, but Lady Lions head coach Lauren Sheakoski remains steadfast in her belief in her youthful team, that another win is just 32 game-minutes away.
“We didn’t have a lot of returners, still young with some sophomores, a few juniors and one senior,” Sheakoski said. “I thought we would be a little bit better than our record shows.
“I think we’ve improved dramatically. People may not see it, but I see it. I see how hard my girls play.”
The players understand this season has left them anxious, knowing how hard they have worked so far with little positive gained in return.
“It’s been a rough year so far,” sophomore Cali Fauquier said. “We’ve had our ups and downs this season.
Despite the record the Lady Lions have compiled as the season winds down, Fauquier agrees with Sheakoski’s belief that their play of late has looked better than their win-loss record might reflect.
“Towards the end of the season we’ve started to get better,” Fauquier said. “We have started to come together as a team.”
That is a good sign the Lady Lions are headed in the right direction that they have not quit despite all the struggles of going through a one-win season. They are playing for pride, and in a sense, playing for next year already.
“We keep getting better, and that makes it easier (to deal with),” Fauquier said.
“They play hard, it’s just that we’re not putting easy shots in the basket,” Sheakoski said. “We lost a game by 30, but we missed 23 foul shots, so you’re not going to win many games missing that many. It’s stuff we can control, making our foul shots, making easy layups when they have the opportunity.
“They’ll get there, and that’s a little bit of me, working a little bit more in the off-season, getting them lifting so they are able to get bumped and finish those easy shots under the basket as well.”
Fauquier knows she’s got some work to do, and she’s not going to make excuses about their record. The sophomore has skills, but is not nearly the finished product she hopes to be.
“I have gotten better with my ball handling and shooting,” Fauquier said.
Moral victories can be made for the Lady Lions, but the sophomore and her teammates are eager to forget about those types of wins and earn more of the ones that show up on the scoreboard after time runs out.
“Most of us are (frustrated),” Fauquier said. “You don’t get used to it.”
But she knows there are many more aspects of the game Sheakoski will expect to see next year.
“I have to get stronger physically and be a better ball handler,” Fauquier said. “I have to get better mentally as a basketball player.”
That part of the game has been challenging this year, but while the Lady Lions have struggled, they care enough about the game to keep pressing on and giving it their all every time they lace up their sneakers for another practice or another game.
They had entered the season with high hopes, fueled by the fact they seemed to have timing on their side, as the Lady Lions reached the District 2 Class A final last year, where they lost to Forest City.
“We had only one senior last year, so I thought we were about to improve,” Fauquier said.
Next year, the Lady Lions should start the season full of hope and expectation. This time around, having seen the bad times from this season, they will assume nothing, and keep their focus on playing sound basketball.