Sometimes, all it takes is one shot to reinvigorate a struggling team and provide clarity on a season.
On January 28th, with Seckman High School battling Hillsboro, junior Ally Jones delivered that shot with an electrifying game-winner at the buzzer to give Seckman a much-needed 37-35 victory.
At the time of this victory, Seckman was amidst an eleven-game losing streak, including five straight losses by double digits, which left the team in a difficult spot. However, Ally’s late-game heroics
in the second game of the Hillsboro Invitational, inspired confidence and hope that radiated throughout the team. In my interview with a few of Seckman’s most influential players, fellow junior Abby Coe, who scored 15 points in the triumph, added “One moment I will never forget is the second game of the tournament [when] Ally Jones won the game with a buzzer-beater. Everyone was so beyond happy and it was a great moment for all of us.”
This sentiment continued into their final game of the tournament against the Blue Knights, whom Seckman defeated 56-47 behind 18 points from Coe and a 16 point, 10 rebound double-double from Jones.
As Jones said, “[Hillsboro] was our first and only tournament of the year. We knew it was a good opportunity for us to compete and win. This success reminded us we could be competitive and win despite our record.” These games displayed how even in the toughest of stretches, the team can band together for an energizing victory. Through this reminder, the team continued to battle in their quest for success.
Following these victories, Seckman’s hardships continued with a four-game losing streak, but then the team faced Mehlville High School for Senior Night and their final home game of the season. In a season-defining game, Seckman overcame their struggles to take down Mehlville 48-31 and capture their best victory on the season in the process. Abby led all scorers with 18 points on sixty-two percent shooting while junior Kara Deane tallied nine points and nine rebounds.
To win on Senior Night and their final home game of the season meant a lot to the team, and as Jami Spreck, the team’s leading rebounder, told me “We had not won a lot of games, but we all dug deep and gave it our all as a team for our seniors t
o walk away with a win in their last home game ever.” For a team with only four wins on the season, the spirit for which they played is incredibly inspiring and exhibited how instrumental coming together as a team is.
Seckman closed out the season with a loss to Northwest in Districts to finish the season with a record of 4-17. Although this record may suggest a struggling team with little ahead of them, that is simply not the case. Seckman’s team is composed of only three seniors and ten underclassmen who now have experience playing alongside each other. With the return of Coe, Jones, Spreck and emerging sophomore Emma Robinson next year, the team’s strong core is established and ready to go.
On top of this, the team has the experience and realizes the specific areas where they need to improve as a team in order to succeed. Abby’s mindset was captured when she told me “I don’t want to stop becoming better. I am going to be putting in loads of extra work so my senior year is the best year I’ve ever had. I’m not going to take my last year of high school basketball for granted, so I will definitely put in the work. I am excited to see what’s in store for us.” For a junior who averaged more than ten points per game this season, this mentality is one that will pay dividends on the court next season. In Spreck’s case, she believes “it would be a great goal for us and myself included to play as a team rather than individually. In order to succeed at this goal, we can’t give up and must play as hard as we can for each other and leave it all out on the court. Even if we lose, we can still walk away knowing we gave it our best.” A focus on working together with a group of players who are already aware of how each other plays will make this team a formidable foe next year.
One position to keep an eye on going forward is at point guard where Emma Robinson continues to grow. Last year, Emma played as a forward on the Junior Varsity team and made the transition to Varsity while being told she’d have to play the point guard position this year. Emma’s attitude displays her desire to play where she can have the most positive impact on the team and she believes that “Playing with the same team on a higher level, made me a better teammate and proved to myself that I’m a competitive player. Next season I hope to grow more with my team and show our full potential.” With her junior year ahead, Emma’s work off the court will solidify herself as the point guard of the future for the Jaguars.
One key piece for the Jaguars going forward is leadership. Senior Karlie Williams shared that one key for this year was to “stay positive no matter what happened. Of course not every practice was easy and not every game went as planned but we all managed to stay positive … and still have fun.” With a 4-17 season behind them, the Jaguars are able to use this as a building block and learning experience in order to make noise next year. Karlie’s advice will help the team work through future adversities and allow success to become a constant very soon.
For several underclassmen, Coach Claxton and Brian Metteer served as mentors who were instrumental in the development of these key role players. As Karlie told me before the Mehlville game, “Coach Claxton came into the locker room and encouraged everyone to play their hardest since it was the senior’s last time playing on the home court. After this encouraging speech, we played the best game that we had all season.” Claxton’s impact on one game exhibits the impact he can have on the whole next season.
With an inseparable bond and trust already established, the sky is the limit for this team.
Metteer is a former women’s basketball coach and has been a strong mentor for break-out star Abby Coe. When discussing Metteer’s impact on her, she said to me “He also has a mindset like no other coach I’ve had, he knows when to be rough on you, but he knows when to joke around to get a good laugh out of everyone. I never would have thought I would be sitting here today loving basketball the way I do now. I’ve grown to love this sport so much over the past 3 years, and I believe part of that was because of the encouragement of Brian Metteer.” Although he may not currently be a coach, Metter’s footprint on this team is obvious, and with his ability to help players excel, he is an important piece to this team.
Although Coach Meeks is in his first year as head coach, he has been involved in the program over the last few years. Meeks’ ability to assist in the development and growth of the team showcases his role in helping the team succeed. His involvement with the youth program seeks to pay dividends as those athletes progress through their high school years. Through his extensive experience (winning multiple district championships) and emphasis on defensive tenacity, he’s created new unique opportunities for each player to excel and worked hard to establish a culture of winning. Working with Meeks has given the ladies experience, which has allowed them to have a greater understanding of where they need to grow in order to succeed.
When looking at next year, the potential success is something to be excited about. The team will bring back a little more than seventy percent of their current roster and each girl I’ve spoken with has placed an emphasis on working together as a team more. As Jami Spreck said, “With this mentality, I think we would have the power to earn a winning record next season.” Spreck, alongside Coe, Robinson and Jones, believes the key to success is stronger teamwork and an emphasis on the fundamentals. For the 2021-2022 season, women’s basketball is something to be extremely excited about. This season has only given us a glimpse at the future of girls’ basketball at Seckman. With a fervent core in place, keep an eye on the Jaguars to make an enormous leap next year.