Lady Bulldogs’ season more about the journey than win-loss record

CENTREVILLE — This season has been more about the journey than wins and losses for Centreville’s girls’ basketball team.
The Class C No. 3-ranked Lady Bulldogs have a daily destination with unspoken long-term goals awaiting them at the end.
Like a lot of other prep athletic teams, Jill Peterson’s Lady Bulldogs adopted an underlying message designed for inspiration when the season began.
One of Centreville’s pre-season goals for 2016-17 was to map out a fictitious 1,619-mile trip to Deer Lodge, Mont.
“We made this season about a road trip. It’s more about the journey than the destination. If you just go through the season talking only about winning, you’re not building other things along the way,” Peterson said.
Centreville began its trip in Michigan at the start of the season. Peterson and her ballclub evaluate themselves daily on their performance in practice and games to determine how far they traveled that particular day.
“Thirty miles is considered a pretty good day of practice with our best being 35. Every day if we’re struggling with something we know we have to fix it or we can’t move on and be stuck there,” Peterson said.
“We’ve only had three or four sub-par practices and we’re not even talking terrible ones. But these girls are dedicated to doing things right. After each day we talk about where we’re at. We never want to go through a practice or game and be standing still. The goal is to always keep moving forward and see where we are at down the road.”
Centreville has reeled off 18 consecutive victories since dropping a 41-32 decision at Constantine back on Tuesday, Nov. 29 in the season opener.
The Lady Bulldogs were ranked as high as No. 2 in last week’s Class C state poll by the Michigan Associated Press.
Following its 42-30 BCS League win at home over Bronson for the outright Blue Division championship, the Lady Bulldogs finished a perfect 10-0 against divisional opponents and won the school’s first league title in girls’ basketball since 1989.
Centreville, which ends the regular season at home Wednesday against Battle Creek St. Philip, wants to make it 19 wins in a row entering next week’s district tournament at Constantine.
Centreville has had their season ended by Schoolcraft the past two years in the districts.
The Lady Bulldogs hope to change recent history this time around.
“This group is different. We just try to focus on the next day and rarely do we even mention anything about winning. The goal is just to get better each day. All season we’ve been successful in another area even if we’re struggling in a different one. That has been a real key,” Peterson said.
This year’s team has real good chemistry.
“These kids work hard for one another. If there are any disagreements they set them aside when they step onto the court. We haven’t reached our full potential yet, but it’s going to be a fun day when that happens and everything comes together,” Peterson said.
Junior guard Kayla Gest, one of the team’s top three-point shooters, has really enjoyed her experience this season with her teammates.
“We’re a close-knit group. We have learned what we’re capable of. We’re all really close friends and there is no separation. We just go into every game wanting to be a better team than when we started,” Gest said.
Centreville has good size with freshman center Joanna Larsen (6-foot-0) coming off the bench.
The Bulldogs are paced in scoring by sophomore postplayer Samara Schlabach (5-11), along with juniors Gest, Carlee Odom and Carly Todd and senior Skyler DeMeyer.
Depth is a big key as Peterson has gotten contributions from Andrea Bell, Brittany Morris, Hannah Rice and Abby Nighswonger.
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or sports@threeriversnews.com.

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