SANFORD — Two years ago, Sanford Meridian went the entire girls basketball season without a win. This season, the Mustangs went 18-1 and won the Jack Pine Conference.
“When you’re losing consistently like that it can bring the morale down a little bit,” Sanford Meridian head coach Tanner Smith said. “We tried to focus on just getting better one step at a time, one day at a time. Being a good teammate, and slowly it started to progress from there.”
This year’s Mustangs have three players from the 0-21 team.
“That season it was like every practice we were being pushed and I just knew that it would pay off eventually,” Meridian senior Taylor Hopkins said.
“Those girls have been the face of the turnaround,” Smith said. “When you go 0-21 and you don’t see any success and then you still come everyday to compete and get better and challenge yourself. That right there has meant everything to the program.”
The Mustangs won six games last season and started this season with another loss. But that was their last loss. They have won 18 straight games and they now seek the school’s first girls basketball district title since 1988. And for a community that’s been through a lot, it’s special.
“If you think back just two short years ago: the flood that happened and everything that happened within the town, people losing their homes and some of our girls have been affected by that, and then going through COVID and then still sticking that out and still playing basketball, it’s been kind of a shining light on some dark times and it’s given the community something to be happy about and given the school something to be proud of too,” Smith said.
“I think the community is really proud,” Hopkins said. “We’ve had so many people come out and where two years ago we didn’t really have much of a crowd. This year we’ve got a big student section, we’ve got fans coming out and people I don’t really know around the community just coming out to support.”
Sanford Meridian’s first playoff game is on Wednesday against Pinconning.
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