At the midway point of the season, Elmwood’s girls basketball team is perfect.
But veteran head coach Doug Reynolds knows it will only get tougher from here on out for his Royals.
“The more you win, the tougher it gets. We go into the league now, and teams will be really coming at us,” said Reynolds, whose team improved to 11-0 by beating Otsego 43-33 in a Northern Buckeye Conference game on Tuesday. “When you’re unbeaten and you go into another teams’ place, you’re going to get their best effort.”
Reynolds speaks from a wealth of basketball experience. During his eight seasons as Hopewell-Loudon’s girls coach, he guided the Chieftains to a Division IV state championship in 1999 and a state runner-up finish in ‘98. He also spent eight years as Elmwood’s boys coach before taking some time off, then returning as coach of the Royals’ girls program.
Reynolds knows success can be fleeting. He also knows winning can be contagious.
“If we can stay unbeaten, that would be fantastic,” Reynolds said.
“When you get to this point of the season, that’s always a goal. We think every time we step on the court, we’re going to win the game. That’s the attitude you have to have, and every kid on the team has to buy into that.”
Apparently Elmwood has bought in.
Last Saturday’s 56-47 win over Van Buren was the Royals’ closest game since an 85-76 double overtime win over Bowling Green back on Dec. 4.
The team’s win over the Bobcats was a big one, according to Reynolds.
“We when we got that win over Bowling Green, a Division I school, that was a big turning point for us. When we knocked them off, our girls got confidence, big confidence,” Reynolds said.
“It was early, but you go to 2-0 and then to 3-0, and before you know it, you’re gaining confidence and this is what happens.”
The Royals aren’t a one-trick pony, either.
They don’t have a dominant player who is going to drop in 25 points and grab 10 rebounds per game. What Elmwood does have is a core of solid players like Kristen Curtis, Brittany Gross and Brittany George who are all averaging around 10 points per game.
“We have more kids who can score this year than in the past. Against Van Buren, Brittany George led us in scoring. Kristen Curtis has led us in scoring; Brittany Gross and Tori Hillard are right there, too. Any one of those girls can score and that’s been one of the keys for us,” Reynolds said.
“I’m challenging our girls all the time. I ask them, ‘Do you want to stay undefeated? Do you have it in you?’ I can set the challenge out for them, but they’re the ones who have to do it on the court.”
Elmwood still has nine NBC games on the schedule and nonconference games against Arcadia and Hopewell-Loudon as well.
There’s plenty of basketball ahead and it’s a chance to make this a special season.
“To accomplish your goals you have to have more than just a couple of players contributing every night,” Reynolds said. “You have to have players who assume their role and get down and get dirty. That switch has to be on for 32 minutes. You can’t just flip it on and off when you want to.
“For a team to be special, that’s what you have to have. Are we there yet? No. But we’re getting there.”