Hydaburg’s 400-person community has been without a high school girls’ basketball team for two years.
This year, high school principal and basketball coach Brad King, along with superintendent Lauren Burch, decided that needed to change.
“We talked all year about it — if we don’t start a program for the girls there never will be one,” King said. “So we need to work our way through it and just go for growth game to game.”
Here’s the problem: there are only three girls in the 15-student high school. So, the Lady Warriors brought in three 8th graders.
“It was scary because everyone was not only bigger than me and stronger, but they were taller too,” said 8th grader Rachel Guymon, who is five feet tall.
Some of the Lady Warriors hadn’t played basketball before. Including Courtney King, a high school sophomore.
“For me, not playing basketball ever in my life, it was stressful,” she said. “And I was kind of scared.”
With a six-player, fairly inexperienced team, it’s been a challenging season. The girls haven’t won a single game.
“It is really hard. Because I don’t like losing,” said point guard Andrea Cook. “But it’s okay cause we’re a young team and the next couple years it’ll get better.”
“So it’s a kind of tough experience for them,” said Coach King. “But they’ve been really upbeat most of the time, and they work hard at improving and keeping Hydaburg having a girls program.”
Pam Penrose is a teacher at the high school who is chaperoning the team while they travel.
“I give them a lot of credit for the courage it takes to almost know before you get on the court that you’re gonna be defeated,” Penrose said. “And they still get out there and give it their all, so I’m really impressed with the courage that takes.”
At the Southeast Regional 1A Tournament in Ketchikan, the Lady Warriors’ first game was Wednesday against the Yakutat High School Lady Eagles – a team twice their size, with 12 players. One of Hydaburg’s girls is injured, so they went into the game with five players. Halfway through, one of them fouled out. They played the second half with four girls, three of them eighth graders.
The game ended 48-23, with another loss for Hydaburg. But the girls and the coach were exhilarated, saying it was the best they’ve played yet.
“That went great, even though we lost, it felt pretty good,” said Andrea Cook. “Our team tried their best and gave it their all. So that’s all you could really ask for.”
The Lady Warriors played Angoon Thursday, losing 48-27. It was the most points the Hydaburg girls have scored this year. They’re looking forward to improving on that number next season.