Coal Grove seniors bring winning attitude
COAL GROVE — If you hear the band start to play the “Victory March” school fight song, don’t be surprised if four senior girls basketball players are leading the parade.
During their four-year careers with the Lady Hornets, seniors Chelsea Markins, Samantha Hall, Samantha Zornes and Tiffany Wallace generated 58 wins, two Ohio Valley Conference championships and the school’s first sectional title since 1983.
The championships were back-to-back, something no other boys or girls team had ever accomplished in school history.
What makes the accomplishments even more impressive is looking at the previous two seasons when the girls were in junior high. Coal Grove won a total of two games in each of those campaigns.
“My first year we played a lot of kids who weren’t ready. We had won two games the year before and lost five starters,” Lady Hornets coach Nick Miller said.
“We won two games and we were getting beat 30 to 50 points every night. They created a winning attitude and I think it will carry on after they’re gone.”
The influx of young but talented players helped Coal Grove win 10 games in the group’s freshman season. That was followed by seasons of 13, 17 and 18 wins.
Markins was the leader of the group. The 5-foot-8 guard scored more than 1,500 points in her career and was named to almost every postseason first team culminating with an All-Ohio special mention selection.
“When I started, I said we need to practice a lot and we did,” said Markins. “We practiced every day in the summer and even on Sundays. My senior year we felt we could win all our games.”
Wallace also felt a sense of confidence with the accumulation of victories over the previous three seasons.
“I figured we’d win the league. I figured we’d go pretty far in the tournament. I thought we’d go to the regionals or even the state,” said Wallace.
Even though they finally won the sectional, a cold shooting night was too much to overcome in the district semifinal loss to Alexander. Markins wasn’t overly disappointed.
“I was very happy. All I wanted was to win the OVC and we did that, and I wanted to get to the district and we did that,” said Markins.
But Markins wasn’t the only scorer for Coal Grove. Hall finished her career with more than 1,000 points. However, she admitted that she wasn’t always a scorer and she had to adjust to the pressure of a scoring role.
“It was a big change from when I was in middle school. I wasn’t a scorer at all,” Hall said. “I felt more pressure my sophomore year than my freshman year. I felt pressure to do better or stay the same with my scoring and rebounding (as a junior and senior.)”
There were no seniors on the first team Miller coached. The four seniors this season helped provide something that is needed for success: leadership.
“I was just trying to keep spirits up and keep people motivated,” Wallace said.
Zornes felt she had a similar role both on and off the court.
“My role was setting up (Markins and Hall) to score and being a good defensive player,” said Zornes. “When someone was out of place, I would help them get back in the right place. I encouraged the other players.”
Hall said the group had accomplished a lot during their tenure.
“I feel proud to be a part of a team that’s made so much of an impact on the program. I’m glad I got to be a part of it,” Hall said.
“What we did was outstanding,” said Zornes. “When you talk about what it was like the years before and we accomplished a feat not done in our school.”
Miller said the foursome should be proud of their accomplishments.
“It’s been a huge rise in competitiveness,” Miller said. “We’re probably in the top five or six programs in this area and we were one of the worst. These girls have helped create a great turnaround.”