Young Lady Trojans grow in tough season

By the end of the season, the Southwest girls basketball team did not have a senior on the floor.

The Lady Trojans (2-24), whose only senior suffered an injury, had one junior, one sophomore and four freshmen handling the minutes, and Coach Destiny Jalbert said they were undaunted by the task.

“Our team goal was to fall back in love with the game and I would give that an A,” she said. “Our team saw the biggest improvement with being aggressive. We were a very young team this year. Our senior, [Alexis Raucstadt], led us at the beginning on going after the ball, but it wasn’t until we lost [her] due to an injury that our freshman really understood that they had to ‘take some risks.’” Southwest first tasted victory this season in the 10th Annual Southwest Girls Holiday Tournament, picking up a 53-49 win over McAuley Catholic, who went 8-19 this season. In early February, though, was one of the games of the season for the Lady Trojans.

“We had two games with a lot of meaning to our girls,” Jalbert said. “One was against East Newton in the Holiday tournament [after defeating McAuley]. Alexis was best friends with one of their seniors, Brooklyn Blanchard, who played with Southwest from fifth to ninth grade. They had to guard each other, and it was just a close and emotional game. We ended up losing by 1 point with a last second shot.

“Our other exciting game was against our rival, Wheaton. We were very excited about that 52-46 win.”

Jalbert said Raucstadt’s dedication is something the team will miss, especially being so young and needing that type of leadership.

“Alexis has been a great contributor to our team and entire program,” she said. “Hustle is the one word that best describes her. Ever since she was a freshman, I have lined her up with the other team’s best offensive player at the varsity level. I was so sad for her when her season was cut short.

“Also, Jordan Long, our manager, has been a part of the program while he was in high school. He has done anything that has been needed from him, including practicing with the girls this year. He will be greatly missed.”

Looking to next season, Jalbert said Southwest will still battle age, with this year’s underclassmen having to step into even greater roles.

“We are going to be a very young team again next year, but our sophomores grew so much this season that I can’t wait to see what they bring next year. We have a large freshman class coming in, and some of them will be needed on varsity. So, I am hoping our current freshman will encourage them to relax and just to play ball.”

A help, Jalbert said, will be a focus on timely shooting.

“The areas I would have like to have seen more improvement would have been our shooting,” she said. “We were starting to see that we had an open shot, but we still were not quick enough to release it.”

Despite the record, Jalbert said Southwest should be proud of the season produced.

“I am so proud of the group of girls that were able to finish the season,” she said. “They worked hard and showed a lot of grit. Our overall record was not where we wanted it to be, but this group does not quit.

“They have great sportsmanship. Sometimes, losing can cause you to become angry and start lashing out at other players, referees, each other, etc., but this group kept it together and focused on coming back to the gym and working on getting better.”

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