Lady Trojans pulling together as a team, family
Setbacks on and off the court strengthen team's resolve
It doesn't take a person long to see the importance of basketball to the fans of Southwest's Trojan and Lady Trojan teams.
They pack the gym, remain on the edge of their seats and are very vocal. They don't have student seating sections. The place designated for the Southwest students is located under a huge banner that reads "Student Standing Section."
The trophy case in the cafeteria is packed with the recognitions for their athletes' outstanding achievements throughout history, and it is bursting at the seems.
This year, however, there is a more tempered atmosphere for the Lady Trojans. A team that some thought would contend for an Ozark 7 Conference title and could make a run in the district title received a triple scoop of harsh reality.
The ball started rolling with one player moving away during the summer. It then gained speed with losing another player to an ACL injury, and it reached a peak with the tragic loss of senior Jessica Morgan.
Coach Jeff Atchison's Lady Trojans had officially reached rock bottom.
Atchison said it was difficult to bring his team to practice and have them focus on the game.
"Losing Jess was very hard on all of us," he said. "It was like we were in a daze or a horrible dream and couldn't wake up. Our girls were just going through the motions on the court."
With the loss of three talented players, the Lady Trojans were forced to slow their run-and-gun offensive style down and limped out to a 3-4 start to the season before picking up consecutive wins in the Southwest Holiday Tournament.
According to Atchison, the team is just now getting back into a rhythm and a unit that is focused on the game.
"We are still defining and having players learn new roles," Atchison said. "At times, we are pretty stagnate on offense."
Atchison said that his team's success or failure this season will rest upon how involved those new players become in the offense.
"Defensively, we are in pretty good shape," he said. "But, if you can't score for extended periods, a defense can't shut them out for ever."
Southwest returns to action on Jan. 8 at East Newton. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
Editor's note: the result of the third game in the Southwest Holiday Tournament was not available at press time.