BRIGHTON — When the final second ticked off the clock, the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School girls basketball team erupted in celebration.
The substitute players lept from their seats and joined their teammates in a triumphant display of emotion after claiming the inaugural Around the Lakes Tournament championship game Feb. 3 in Brighton. PECS enjoyed complete control from start to finish as the Lady Seminoles cruised past Yearling Middle, 35-18.
PECS coach Tim Thomas said he knew why his players were so excited. Some of the joy came from hoisting up the championship trophy that was presented to them by PECS principal Brian Greseth, but a lot of the emotion had to do with the fact that the players will get their names on a banner in the gymnasium. Only two sports banners hang in the gym, and both were for undefeated seasons.
After this year’s squad dropped a couple of regular season games, out went the chance to get on the wall for a perfect season, but Thomas reminded his team the opportunity to get a championship banner still existed.
“They wanted to get a banner,” Thomas said. “When they lost their chance for an undefeated season they were so upset. I told them we have a tournament championship coming, and if we win that, we’ll get a banner.”
PECS’ determination was evident early and often in the championship. The Lady Seminoles led 11-2 after the first quarter and never trailed. Their suffocating defense held Yearling off the board for long stretches.
“I always tell them that you’re going to win this thing with your defense,” said Thomas, whose team finished with a 12-2 record and its first championship.
In their final games at PECS, eighth-graders Haylie Huff (17 points) and Caylie Huff (14 points) paved the path to victory. The team’s only other eighth-grader, Shaela French, added four points.
The season-ending tournament, in its infancy, drew only three teams, but the coaches see it as a starting point to something that can grow in the future.
“It’s a great concept, a great idea to get the teams involved to play for something,” Yearling coach Erin Perman said. “It’s good to have something to play for at the end.”
In the end, the scene of PECS players celebrating with the championship trophy capped a remarkable season in the eyes of Thomas, who said the team surpassed his expectations.
“Fantastic. I couldn’t ask for anything else,” he said.
2017 Around the Lakes Champions
1 – Giselle Micco
2 – Caylie Huff
3 – Karey Gopher
5 – Haylie Huff
10 – Lashae King
11 – Elle Thomas
12 – Shylynn Testerman
20 – Tafv Harris
21 – Janaya French
22 – Shaela French
23 – Anglie Melton
Coach: Tim Thomas