by Lauren Redfern
During the 2017-2018 Girls Basketball Season, Coach Jason Tincher preached to the team that the season is comparable to writing a book. While the book ended one chapter short on Friday, March 16, the Golden Eagles comprised a story that will be talked about for years to come. At one point during the the season the team had a record of 8-7. After a 43-28 loss to Beavercreek, the team had a “Come to Jesus Moment.” Senior Bekah Vine opened up about how she changed to better the team, “I tried to be a better leader and less selfish. We have a lot of strong personalities on our team and we were not getting along well and that was very evident on the court. I was being selfish when it came to playing time and I took a step back and realized that I was not being the player the team needed me to be. I concentrated on bringing the team together and not being a reason for separation. I was determined to play as hard as I could and be the best teammate I could because I did not want to have regrets.” The Eagles were faced with a chance to put their heads down and charge, or to throw their hands up and say “such is life.” The team selected the first option and started with a fresh set of pages.
The first thing on the agenda was the chemistry on the team. The team had a sleepover that took place in the team’s newly remodeled locker room. Senior Siera Ferguson reflected on the impact the night had on team chemistry. “The lock-in showed us how different we are from each other and how its okay to be that way, because all puzzle pieces are different but when the final product is finished all the pieces have a place. We all learned our place and how to come together and make our pieces fit.”
The book that once seemed like a horror story turned into a tale about friendship, hard work, teamwork, and a love for basketball. After game 15, the girls went on to finish the regular season winning 6 of 7 games. During the postseason, the Golden Eagles should have changed their mascot to the Underdogs. They were the only two seed in the final four. Not only did they played that role well, but were two wins away from hoisting the State Championship trophy.
Bellbrook, under the direction of Coach Tincher, has prided themselves on defense. While Tincher admitted to his team that they had escaped that mindset in the first half of the season, defense became a focal point during the end, and they reaped the benefits. After an emotional win against the Tippecanoe Red Devils, senior Cassidy Hofacker stated, “We’ve been pushing each other really hard every single game, and we’ve just been working really hard on defense. Defense has helped us win these games.” Defense did just that for the Golden Eagles as they eliminated Tippecanoe’s hope of going to state, and gave them their third regional final loss in four years. “We’ve gotten better and better at defense, and we’ve been playing good teams. We’re not the same team we were,” said Tincher after the Regional Final win. As the bench looked towards the floor in the final minutes of the game, Jade Midtlien along with a few others mouthed the words “We are not going to lose.” The team did not lose and won 47-41, punching the team’s ticket to Columbus. “They just were not going to be denied. There’s such a grit with this group. It’s a not-gonna-be-denied group,” said Tincher.
The last chapter was destined to be set in Columbus. The last time Bellbrook played at the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State was in 2012, when current assistant coach Shelby Sigman was a senior starter.
Along with victory came an excitement not only from the players but the entire community. Senior captain Cassidy Bereda stated, “The community and students brought an electricity that the team couldn’t bring by ourselves. It was an amazing experience to see so many people come together to support us along the journey.” That amount of support emphasizes the meaning behind what Coach Tincher says, “It’s not the name on the back, it’s the name on the front…”
Bellbrook brought the largest student section and crowd for any game of any division during the girl’s state games. Bellbrook may not have gone home victorious against Gilmour Academy in the State Semifinal, but the program did break the record for most pre-sale tickets sold (1,226). The previous record holder? Bellbrook in 2012. “The support we received from our community was unreal. I don’t know what’s more meaningful: the support from my family, or the countless hugs and high fives from people I didn’t know telling me they were so proud of us,” said junior Maren Freudenschuss. Even after the loss, Bekah Vine mentioned how much the support meant to the team, and that even when times got tough, they kept her going. As Jack Long mentioned on the The Egg, a podcast from Eagle View News, a trip to state from this year’s team could not have been expected mid-season.
While the team became a family this season, two individuals already share the same name and home. “Being alongside my dad throughout the entire state experience was one of a kind,” Brook Tincher said, “Not many kids get the chance to go to state, let alone getting to do it with their dad as their coach. Even though I do not play as much as others, the excitement we shared together, the support we received from our community is something my dad, teammates and I will forever cherish. Game minutes or not, this experience brought my dad and me closer and was something that neither of us will forget.”
There is always “that moment” for a team when they feel all the parts come together. Olivia Greathouse, a junior and key player for the Eagles said the third Valley View game was when she personally saw all the “puzzle pieces” fit. “It was the during the 4th quarter. Valley View had just gone on a run and the score was tight. Coach had just called a time out, and at the end Cassi (Hofacker) looked at us and said, ‘We are not losing this game, so let’s do whatever we have to do to win!’ And at that moment leadership came out, and the team came together like a great team does. We were no longer playing for ourselves but for each other.”
The Eagles continued to play for each other up to the final buzzer. “I think I speak on behalf of all my teammates when I say one of the most memorable moments, and one I won’t forget, was hearing our record-setting crowd chant, ‘We’re from Bellbrook, couldn’t be prouder’ as we came to the end of our journey. Knowing that Bellbrook had our back motivated us even more to finish strong,” Freudenschuss mentioned.
“This experience has meant a lot to me. It showed me how just because things aren’t going right to begin with you shouldn’t just give up, because hard work really does pay off. Our team chemistry and the support of the community gave us all more of a reason to keep loving this sport,” said Brooklyn Hall.
The team is graduating five seniors this year. “This team has become family this season,” said sophomore Kayla Paul, “I will miss Siera’s contagious laugh, Bekah’s competitiveness and tenacity on defense, Cassidy (Hofacker) leading by example on the court, Cassidy (Bereda)’s enthusiasm on the bench and in the locker room and Lauren’s friendship and advice.” Hofacker, Vine, Ferguson, Bereda and Lauren Redfern may have had their final chapter written for their Bellbrook Girls Basketball careers, but they helped lead a team that will not be forgotten any time soon.
The team would like to say a thank you to the town of Bellbrook, their classmates, and coaches for making this experience even more special than imagined and one they will never forget. This final chapter may be written and the book in publication, but the team is determined to continue to write the sequel to this great story.