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Albright: Gilmer girls have great trio to lead them on title quest

Highest on the list of problems the opposition faces when it comes to the Gilmer County girls’ basketball team is the fiery trio of Trinity Bancroft, Emma Taylor, and Carrah Ferguson.

Highest on the list of problems is their combined will to win.

Highest on the list of problems is their hatred of losing.

Say what you want about the Titans’ physical style of play, which is a daunting enough challenge as is, but without this trio it just isn’t possible. Without them, players don’t fear the simple act of bringing the ball up the court. Without them, Wheeling Central doesn’t complain about the Titans bullish style of play after a state tournament first round matchup last season. Without them, we aren’t even having this conversation.

They are the fire that ignites the competitive brazier. The steam powering the engine. Not many groups if any can match what they bring to the court. And when the Titans finally hit the hardwood in search of a state championship, head coach Amy Chapman is going to turn to them to make big things happen.

OK, maybe she won’t rely on them at all times as the Titans go seven deep, but their contributions will be felt. Chances are they are going to bring it every night, anyway.

You see, they have something worth fighting for. Something they take to heart that sets them apart.

Let’s rewind a bit.

As attendees at the Charleston Civic Center during the night Chapman, Riley Fitzwater, Kylie Shuff and company shocked the state in 2016, they witnessed first-hand just how big the party can be when the end goal is met. “It was so intense and really cool to see the entire county come out and support them,” recalls Ferguson.

As someone who was there that night, I can agree with this assessment. It was hard not to notice. People were crying, fans were going hoarse from shouting and you really couldn’t hear much of anything other than the constant cheering. Perhaps all of Glenville had emptied out for the occasion. When you consider how many school buses of fans they brought, that was probably the case. Everyone dressed in blue bathed the seats in a wave. Each one of them losing their minds as St. Joe’s last hope fell harmlessly to the floor.

And rather than those memories simply fading away, each element left a lasting effect on them. The party on the floor. Welcoming the girls home afterwards. Everything was too much to forget.

“I just remember how good it felt for them to win. I just remember how badly I wanted to make everyone else feel that way when I got my chance,” Taylor said.

Those are pretty serious words. Hard to back up, but not impossible.

And after that night, the trio was inspired to start the work to get Chapman another title. You could say they made it their duty. Every little bit of sweat drawing them closer and closer to the eventual goal. And wouldn’t you know it … that work has paid off.

In a sense, all of this work has been shown the past two years. A pair of appearances in the Little Kanawha Conference championship game and one thrashing of the Maroon Knights were just the beginning, though. They are not about to rest until that state championship is in their arms. And anything they need to do to get it, they are going to do.

“Yeah for sure. I think as leaders we should step up and be there for Chapman to lean on use. She trusts us with certain things and we are able to get the team going,” Bancroft said.

There it is.

That attitude to lead that just seems to be ingrained in their psyche. How can teammates not get excited when around such leaders? How can a coach not get excited when they hear this kind of determination?

They can’t.

Chapman’s opinion of them tells us all as much: “I am telling you these girls can really play well on both ends of the floor. Their ability to score is good and their defense is great. You really saw everything they could do during our postseason run last year. Obviously, you really saw it in the Wheeling Central game and that was just one heck of an effort from those three ladies. I was excited to be a part of it. They are tough and hard-nosed kids.

“The chemistry is great; the jealousy is not there. They definitely have a great attitude when it comes to the end goal.”

In all likelihood, they would not have had a choice but to be ready to lead, anyway. Taylor believes her younger teammates will be watching them a lot and how they play basketball and how they defend. Yet, the fact they are embracing their role and even drawing strength from it really is just the cherry on top as they start down a rather special path.

Good luck to teams trying to get in their way. Stopping a freight train is pretty hard when the train has no breaks.

You just know the trio can taste that goal. You just know they are prepared for more success. You just know that when the first ball goes up in the air, their focus is going to be 100 percent on getting to Charleston by whatever means necessary.

Of course, we still have to get to the regular season and Jan. 22 is a long way off. But if we do get there, one thing is certain – Gilmer’s trio will have the Titans locked in on pursuing that state championship. “We will be good to go. We have been playing together since grade school and we have a great connection and I think it will be a successful season considering everything that has happened,” Bancroft said.

Perfect.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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