What a difference a year makes.
This time last year, Bishop Loughlin’s postseason was spiraling downward after Christ the King handed the team a 13-point loss, but instead of entering this year’s playoffs with a whimper, the Lions are rushing in roaring. On Feb. 13, Loughlin routed the Royals 69–56 — the same deficit it lost by a year ago. The Loughlin squad clinched the win by using its biggest strengths — depth and athleticism — with a touch of sheer will and determination.
“Their desire and their will to win is stronger than it’s ever been,” said an emotional Loughlin coach Chez Williams. “I feel our early schedule prepared us for the games right now. I’m so proud of the way they played for me today. If they can continue to play like that, it will be an interesting end of the year.”
Sure Christ the King was visibly tired playing its fourth game in five days (and on back-to-back days), but it’s how the Lions pounced on the sluggish play that matters.
Loughlin never gave the Royals a chance to breath, swarming them on defense, pushing the pace, and capitalizing when coach Bob Mackey went to the bench in the second quarter in an attempt to keep his starters fresh. There was never any panic or infighting when things got tough, just troubleshooting and results.
“Whatever wasn’t right, we made it right,” Williams said. “We didn’t argue. That is the sign of a team that is learning how to win.”
Four separate Loughlin players scored in double figures. Guards Ellease Billings-Harrison (16 points) and Lynette Taitt (15 points) took the pressure off star Milicia “Mimi” Reid (15 points), allowing her to close the game in the final quarter instead of carrying the load for four.
“We all have to be on the same page,” Taitt said. “Last year everyone was on a different page.”
Billings-Harrison echoed the sentiment that a full year under their belts and a tough early season schedule is the reason why things are falling into place at the right time — now the team is more experienced, more composed, and more determined to win.
“It got us ready for this game today,” she said.
And it’s a better note on which to enter the playoffs.
The score was same – the outcome totally different.