Resilient Bears prepare for next challenge

Published 8:03 pm Monday, February 9, 2009

And then there was one.

Fourteen local basketball teams competed in area tournaments last week, and only Billingsley’s girls team is alive to talk about it.

But the distinction isn’t out of the ordinary for the Bears (15-7), who, in a reversal from last season, are making survival their specialty.

“It’s completely different from last year,” coach Arleshia Lane-Turner said. “This time last year, we were 7-15, and St. Jude put us out in the first game of the area tournament.”

There was almost another early playoff exit. Billingsley drew Holy Spirit—a team that won both of the regular season meetings—in the first game, and Holy Spirit jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the first quarter.

Billingsley was unbroken, though, and won the game, 56-49 to earn a berth in the regional round of the state playoffs.

There was another hurdle along the way. Senior starter and team leader Lucretia Love tore ligaments in her knee with only two games remaining in the season.

Lane-Turner told her post players they would have to step up, and Charlotte McCary responded with 25 points against Holy Spirit—yet another example of the team’s resiliency.

“To me, it says they were determined,” Lane-Turner said about the Bears’ win in the area tournament. “One of the main things I talked about was not quitting. I think they were determined to make this year different than last year.”

The next challenge for Billingsley is a regional game Thursday at 7 p.m. at Sunshine. The visitors will have to account for junior guard Shafontaye Myers, who is averaging more than 31 points a game for the Tigers (20-4) this season.

“Basically, she is the offense,” Lane-Turner said. “If we can stop her, or at least slow her down, we should have a good chance.”