The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

March 17, 2014

Scott Dudinskie's girls basketball column: Mifflinburg triumphs over recent past

Pretty sure it was a Kardashian who dropped this pearl of wisdom: "When you hit rock bottom, you've got two ways to go -- straight up or sideways."

On second thought, that may have been a Judd.

Either way ...

I'd bet anyone associated with Mifflinburg's girls basketball considers their 2-20 season a couple years ago "rock bottom" for the program.

The Wildcats were coming off a .500 season that included a district playoff appearance. And despite the graduation of game-changing twin sisters Alexis and Bryanna Valentine, no one foresaw such a precipitous slide.

They improved by two wins last year.

Sideways, for sure.

At that rate they would have qualified for the postseason again in 2017, when the current freshmen were seniors.

Well, as the story goes, the Wildcats started this season strong (8-2 out of the gate) and finished stronger, winning eight consecutive games and 20 overall, including the District 4 Class AAA championship, a program first.

It was a surprising season from start to finish, any way you look at it.

"(The feeling) is beyond this world," said sophomore Julia McArdle-Coe, "and I'm so proud to say I'm part of the team that made Mifflinburg basketball something."

On paper, this one had the ominous look of the "rock bottom" season.

Just like in 2011-12, coach Kelly Griffith had four experienced seniors and promising talent in her sophomore class.

One of the seniors, Katie Alexander, missed the season with an injury. Classmates Sara Stauffer, Jackie Beck and Emily Weeder were starters, along with sophomores McArdle-Coe and Kayla Kline.

Just like in 2011-12, it appeared to be a team that was a lot of hard work (and a few breaks) from a playoff berth.

Unbeknownst to most everyone but them, the Wildcats put in the work, improving in the offseason through open gym, and team and individual camps. They were determined to put a better team on the court and to take a significant step forward.

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