(Photo provided – The Olivet girls basketball team poses with the district trophy after defeating Vicksburg 48-33 on March 4.)
The Olivet girls basketball team lost their Division 2 regional semi-final game 46-42 to Plainwell on Tuesday, March 7 in a contest held at Three Rivers. The Lady Eagles still had quite the season though, finishing with a 19-5 record and winning Greater Lansing Activities Conference and district championships along the way.
“As always we spent a lot of time in the summer working on basketball, strength and agility training,” head coach Anna O’Dell said. “But, unlike the past few seasons, we brought back most of the playing group from the previous year. We had four returning starters, which meant we weren’t starting from scratch in June. We had offenses and defenses in place, which allowed us to master some things earlier than usual.”
The Lady Eagles last won a district championship in 2011 and they last won the GLAC in 2017. Ending both droughts was a special feeling for the squad.
“These two titles have been our season goals for years, even though we were not favored to win either this year, we all felt like something special was taking place,” O’Dell said. “When we beat a strong Springport team in the first game of the season, I think we all started to believe we could do it. I wasn’t a fan of opening conference play with Leslie, because I considered them the team to beat, but we took that game convincingly, and that provided extra motivation.”
There was more on top of that to be happy about too.
As for the post-season run, the Eagles were able to pick up convincing wins over Three Rivers and Vicksburg in district action.
“Our defense was the main factor in our district title,” O’Dell said. “We knew Three Rivers had numerous shooters, so our objective was to make it difficult to get their offense set up. We ran four defenses against them, which resulted in deflections, steals, and points off turnovers. Against undefeated Vicksburg, we knew we couldn’t run with them. I decided we would not press them. Their guards are too good and too fast to press. Our extended zone caused a lot of trouble for them, and without their ability to transition they struggled to score. We countered every run Vicksburg put together. I credit my girls and their athleticism, endurance, and grit. It won that game for us.”
The coach added a special thank you to seniors Drue Allen, Morgan O’Dell and Payton Otto.
“We had a historic season, we put two trophies in the trophy case,” O’Dell said.
And as for next season?
“Despite huge shoes to fill, the returners and JV girls provide a promising future,” O’Dell said. “The new conference will provide many challenges. As a coach, it feels a little like starting over. Building scouting reports from scratch on teams I don’t have a lot of knowledge of is concerning, but we will be prepared when the time comes and should compete with nearly every team in the new conference.”