Gilbert Christian girls basketball coach Darryl Young took a few minutes to talk about winning a second state championship in four years after losing a big piece of the puzzle for the year on the first day of the season.
Your daughter, Colleen, tore her ACL in the second game of the season, how did you handle it as a father and her coach?
It was the first quarter at the beginning of the second game against Sedona Red Rock (in the Queen Creek tournament) and she went up for a layup and her left leg buckled. I was a little more on the father side. We came home from the Div. III championship game last year we went out to watch (at Jobing.com Arena) and she went upstairs and wrote on her mirror, ‘State Championship 2014,’ and even walking up the steps out the building she said she was going to be there next year. She and Meg van Rijn were out at 6:30 a.m. running, and training, Colleen was swimming, training and doing things on weekends. We felt like we had four of the better players in the Division and set to go after it. Having that hit at the beginning of the year, it was very difficult to see that with how much she put into it and is stuck watching. That was emotionally tough. She’s done as well as anyone could do in coming back and probably better than most.
What about having to replace Colleen, a captain and four-year starter at point guard?
Lauryn Satterwhite had to step into a role of being ‘the man” so to speak, but as a freshman we hoped she’d be more on the wings with Colleen handling the ball. Things had to be tweaked and changed but the thing was we played great defense. New faces were trying to catch up and it took awhile to develop, but this team came as far defensively as any I’ve had. That was the best part. We got a lot of production from a lot of different people on offense. The foundation we had was returning kids and great competitors.
The Feb. 4 lost to Higley (48-40) seemed like a low point with zero points in the second quarter and eight at halftime. What happened?
That was tough and raised a lot of questions because we didn’t score, and the kids, to their credit, pulled back together. Basketball-wise we were taking quick shots and didn’t come down into our sets or on transition. If the ball doesn’t get rotated in transition to 2-3 people, and the first person shoots the ball and doesn’t hit, we can’t rebound. As soon as open we were firing, that wasn’t team basketball. We had games we were loosey-goosey like that and shots fell, so they might have felt they could do it. We didn’t have a lot of court experience to calm everything down when things went south. Sometimes change is hard at that point of the season, but they bought into some changes and ran our offense and transition game, and got back to being productive again.
Why was the fourth quarter a boon during the state tournament (13-4 run vs. Tempe Prep in quarterfinals to win; 13-2 run to end game to win the state title 32-30 vs. St. David)?
Conditioning from running, swimming, and all that meant kids came into camp in better shape, and we played more man-to-man defense than any other year I’ve coached. We ran the kids more early on than previous years. I think we did have a different level of conditioning. It allowed us to be more functionable and allow their skills to be amplified when the other team is a bit more tired. Sometimes it’s just about energy left. The girls had some togetherness and doing things to help others do things, and they didn’t do it all the time, but those things started to sink in and saw some fruit from the mentality (in the postseason), and the pressure defense in the fourth quarter we use when a team is either hanging on to a lead against us or trying to catch up. Both teams were really good defensively, and we were taking some rushed shots. Better late than never, I guess. Megan in particular and Alyssa Elias had her best game of the year defensively and rebounding and the winning layup on the out-of-bounds play (against St. David). Cassidy (Curtner) hit the stepback 3-pointer to pull within five points with about 1:40 left, and we thought then we could pull this thing out.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.