Updated Wed, Jan 30, 2013 4:36 pm
All it took was a fall over a pad used for post drills in practice to knock Angela Meade out of playing in what would turn out to be the last game of the 2011-2012 season for the Nelsonville-York Lady Buckeyes.
Meade took a rough tumble and hit the floor. She tried immediately after to resume running, but felt feelings of dizziness and nausea. Her father, who is an assistant coach for the Lady Buckeyes, refused to allow her to resume practicing at the risk of concussion.
The diagnosis proved to be a mild-concussion, but the injury would keep Meade out of the upcoming tournament game versus Ironton. Leading up to the game, the team would share its doubts about their abilities handling the ball. This included coach Amanda Dalton who was confident in her team’s abilities but knew they had their work cut out for them heading into the game.
“We had to focus improving our ball-handling skills," she said. "With that comes a lot of confidence. None of these girls had ever played a point guard role, so I asked Megan and Jenna to share that responsibility for the Ironton game. It’s a huge undertaking when you have to replace someone like that, because that’s who has been their point guard for the last 4-5 years of their life."
Dalton pointed out that her team had 17 turnovers in the first half, but that the girls settled down in the second half and realized they were altogether capable of handling the ball.
Nelsonville-York would go on to lose their game to Ironton 37-30, but came to realize some positive things about themselves. It was also this experience that would prove to play a big part in creating a great deal of the unity that the Lady Buckeyes would share in the upcoming season.
Putting the Lady Buckeyes in this position proved to be a great way to give Meade’s teammates more confidence when it came to handling the ball. This season especially, the team had worked a great deal in practice of getting everyone involved and able to handle the basketball. Meade has a great deal of confidence in her teammates.
“If I need a break, Jenna is right there, Megan, Cass, or Brooke, anyone really," she said. "They don’t rely on me now, they stepped up.”
The preseason would find Meade in another tough position, as she struggled with a hip flexor and a case of mono. But in this case, the girls knew they had the confidence to succeed.
Coach Dalton emphasized the attitude of her team,
“Now that she’s back, everyone has confidence like, ‘hey, I can handle the ball too,’ so if she’s face-guarded, getting a lot of pressure defense, or a lot of traps, we can do this without her," she said. "We’re just a better team with her.
This has been the prevailing attitude for the “Wolfpack” this season. But how would the Lady Buckeyes come to calling themselves this? Part of the increased confidence among the members of the team has generated a great feeling of unity between the players, most of who are back from last season’s team.
As they explained, they have bonded over the basketball movie “Heart of the Game,” which showcased an underdog team that overcame tremendous odds by “playing like a pack of wolves.” This has carried on to the 2012-2013 season, where the Lady Buckeyes pick each other up and are extremely encouraging of one another. Meade was quite adamant about the importance of the newfound unity.
“We’ve definitely been more positive on the court, talking to each other, and keeping everyone up. When someone is down, you have to pick them back up.”
The Lady Buckeyes have seen noticeable improvement with this unity, having started the season 11-4 and having won five TVC-Ohio games after winning four last season. Meade as a senior has continued to play tremendously, enjoying success in numerous aspects of the game, from scoring, to creating opportunities for her teammates, to the defensive side of the ball. It has been the unity and the newfound confidence of the rest of the team that has proved most essential to their success.