Girls beat Zephs
It's not often that a high school basketball team plays four games in five days in two separate states with about 900 miles between them.
That's the task that was given to the Parkland Lady Trojans and they came through the test with a 2-2 record and some great memories.
Parkland took part in a tournament in Orlando, Florida Thursday through Saturday and then had a day of fun in the sun before jetting back home late Sunday night.
While they loved the trip, the Trojans were also exhausted and it showed early on against Whitehall (0-6 overall, 0-3 LVC) Monday night.
The two teams finished the first quarter with the Lady Zephyrs holding a 6-4 lead, but Parkland (3-3, 2-0) got a second wind and rolled to a 39-23 win.
Parkland head coach Wes Spence believes the trip will pay a lot of dividends for his players.
"It's a good learning experience for us," he said. "It's nice to get out of the area and play teams that you're not familiar with. We saw some very good teams; we played two teams from right in Orlando, who are very good teams, and a team from Virginia who has a longstanding, successful program. So I think anytime that you can challenge yourself against better competition it's good for your team.
"As much as you do it to go down and play good competition, you really hope that it's a bonding experience for your girls when you put them in an environment like that."
The Trojans will have a couple days off to relax before heading back to work. After the New Year, the league schedule will kick into high gear and Spence is looking forward to settling into a routine.
"That's what the trip does," he said. "We played three games in three days and we had to move two games, so we understand that's going to throw some things off for us. We think it's a good experience and we're looking forward to, after the New Year, getting into our league schedule and really playing the meat of our games."
Senior Olivia Brown has been the team's leading scorer early on and scored a game-high 16 points against Whitehall, with 10 points coming in the second quarter.
Her status as the top scorer and the fact that she's a senior have put Brown into a leadership role. It's a role that she feels comfortable handling and she has a lot of faith in her teammates.
"It's a good feeling," said Brown. "I want them to follow my lead; I always want there to be focus in the game, that's a big thing for me, so if they follow my lead and focus, we'll all be successful.
"I was a little bit worried because we were all exhausted coming back from Florida last night, but I knew we would pick it up and kick it into gear and as soon as we did we would be fine."
The fact that the Trojans have made it through a demanding early-season schedule with a 3-3 mark has been an accomplishment, because they could have put themselves in an early hole. With just three senior players, Parkland remains competitive and is showing it can be one of the stronger teams in the LVC.
"I'm happy with how we're playing," said Brown. "We're young and we knew it was going to be a rough start to the season, but we've come out and we've played our hearts out and that means a lot to me.
"I'm excited to think about how we'll do in the postseason play when it's time for districts and playoffs, I think it will be exciting."