This Western team has reached its goals and experienced a great level of success without what many would perceive as a marquee star.
Carley O’Neal leads the Panthers in scoring at 14.3 ppg, but five Panthers, all seniors, average 7.0 ppg or more, a telling statistic of their unselfish nature of play.
Givens scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the semistate win over Norwell, earning her Indiana Basketball Coaches Association player of the week honors for District 2. Those numbers wouldn’t typically garner such an accolade, but on this team, any number of players could win such an award based on its balanced style of play.
To Givens, that’s a symptom of their longevity together. The core of the senior class has shared the court and classroom since the girls were fifth graders, and as a result can finish each others sentences like siblings. They also know the nature of each other’s skillsets about as well as possible.
“I can remember even in middle school … we all shared the ball really well,” Givens said. “All-around, everyone is unselfish. If one of us isn’t on, we can always look for other people and depend on them. It has a lot to do with my teammates. We’re great at picking each other up.”
Win or lose Saturday, their going to leave the court with a sense of fulfillment. Win or lose, the tears will flow freely as the sense of closure becomes a reality, a right of passage in many ways.
Their legacy is important to them, but more importantly, they hope they’ve left a lasting mark on future generations of aspiring Panthers to continue the winning tradition when they look up at the banners on the wall inside Richard R. Rea Gymnasium.
“It means a lot to know we were the first ones [to win a regional] as sophomores, and to do even better than that now as seniors,” Durbin concluded. “Coming back here, that’s all we’re going to talk about in the future. We’ve made a name for ourselves. Hopefully it carries over with this year’s sophomores, to have that drive that we developed.”