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HOLGATE - Every successful basketball team has goals. But few teams have goals as big as the girls basketball team from the Henry County community of Holgate.
“For some teams, the hope is to get to regionals,” said senior Alissa Gill. “But for us the goal became to get to state.”
Mission accomplished. The Tigers packed their bags for their second trip to Columbus in three seasons and will face Shadyside in the state semifinals today at 3 p.m.
Of course, the goal of reaching the regional may not seem very lofty to a team that has reached that level in each of the last four seasons. But only once in those three previous years were the Tigers able to advance to the Schottenstein Center - two years ago Holgate reached the Division IV championship game before losing to Jackson Center.
While Holgate fell one game short of a title that season, coach Bruce Schlosser said the experience proved to be valuable this year.
“That gave them an idea they could compete at the state level,” he said. “I think you always have a certain doubt as to how good the other teams are and whether you can play with them. But it gave those kids an idea that they could compete there and a goal that, since they could compete there, they also could get better and win.”
Senior Serena Urdiales said she learned a lot about leadership from that prior state tournament run.
“The senior leaders we had on that team were really good,” she said. “They encouraged us to do our best and believed we could do it. Good leaders on a team make the team better.”
Now Urdiales and the six other seniors in the program - Gill, Vanessa Rothman, Jamie Thomas, Carissa Mangas, Jen Ernske and Valerie Westrick - have provided that leadership. They gave the Tigers the confidence to dream of claiming a fourth straight Green Meadows Conference title and another 20-win season.
Mission accomplished on those two fronts, too. The Tigers won the GMC again this season. In fact, the seniors never lost a league contest in their high school careers. And Holgate's win over Miller City in the regional final Saturday night gives the Tigers a 20-5 mark, and an 87-14 four-year record.
Rothman, the Division IV co-player of the year, leads the Tigers with a 20.8 points-per-game average. Urdiales also scores in double figures at 10.6.
The Tigers lost five times during the regular season, but four of the losses came to teams that also reached regionals: Miller City, Patrick Henry, Archbold and McComb. The fifth loss came to Division II Wauseon, a 17-3 team.41.24967 -84.13291