Ross Fauquier was eagerly waiting for his sophomore basketball season to begin at Lackawanna Trail back in November. Visions of building on a solid freshman year had him anticipating his second year of varsity play.
"I was real excited to get the season started," Fauquier said. "The first day of practice was the best practice we had ever experienced, so we were really excited."
Lions head basketball coach Andrew Kettel had high hopes for the sophomore, thinking back to a year ago and remembering how well Fauquier had developed his game.
"He started some games as a freshman, and we were excited because he had a nice end to his freshman year," Kettel said. "He played a lot of key minutes, so we expected a lot from him this year."
Neither Kettel nor Fauquier could have foreseen how this season would unfold, as fate dealt the Lions some unexpected challenges to handle. Even though this season didn't go according to plan, Fauquier's future may be brighter after surviving a rugged campaign.
"We had a couple of hardships along the way," Fauquier said. "But we have faced them, and we've all been there for each other."
Those hardships revolved around some personnel leaving the program, creating more changes to a lineup that had already been hit hard by graduation.
"We've been dedicated," Fauquier said. "We had a couple of guys quit; we've been through a lot of adversity. But we come to practice, work hard and become a better team. We've become so much closer as a team and as friends."
Among the alterations that Kettel made was to move Fauquier the point guard, giving the sophomore the responsibility of learning a new position on the fly. Last season, as a shooting guard or small forward, Fauquier didn't have to handle the ball as much as he does this season.
"In football terms, it's like we lost our starting quarterback, but instead of replacing him with the backup, we put a wide receiver at quarterback," Kettel said. "It was a difficult change, and early in the season there were a lot of tough nights. We had to learn to be successful with a new lineup."
Those rough games came while Fauquier was trying to nail down the intricacies of his new position, juggling his control of the ball with his control of the offense, figuring out when to shoot and when to pass.
"With three new starters, it was rough trying to adjust to everyone. "We've gotten better over the last couple of weeks," Fauquier said. "I'm playing better. I had never been the point guard until this year. It was a little rough getting used to the position, but I've gotten better."
"We weren't sure what to expect, but he handled [the change] with class, dignity and unselfishness through the whole process," Kettel said. "To him, the team comes first; he does what we need to be successful."
The sophomore has found that he needs to both pass and score, building on the skills he displayed last year, and has improved his game as a result.
"Every game he gets more comfortable," Kettel said. "He has figured out how to use his past experience at other positions to help him at point guard."
As a result, both the Lions and Fauquier have progressed nicely as the season has progressed.
"He's playing his best ball at the end of the year," Kettel said. "He's become a well-rounded player."
And it made Fauquier happy to share and revel in the team's success.
"We ended the league with a 6-6 record, and I'm proud of the way we've played," Fauquier said. "At first it was a little differentâ¦ We started focusing on the little things, and the end of the year turned in our favor."
Fauquier's sophomore season may not have been what he expected, but it has him looking forward to next year with the same attitude he took into this season, bolstered with a shot of well-earned confidence.