SCOTTSVILLE, N.Y. (WROC) – More than ever, basketball is becoming an analytics game. But there’s a numbers problem at Wheatland-Chili that no Ivy League genius could solve.
“Working five-on-on five is kind of a difficult thing to do with six players,” says head coach Gary Ward with a laugh.
The Wildcats girls basketball team, who is 15-5, has just 6 players. They practice with the JV team every day, but during the games, they’re on their own.
“A lot of us are playing every game, all game, 110 percent like we always do,” says senior guard Lindsey Clar. “We’re very conditioned through that.”
With a bench that’s almost non-existent, the team has had to play through plenty of injuries and especially illnesses. One week, four of the team’s six players were a bit under the weather and they somehow found a way to make it work during the game.
“If I couldn’t talk, someone could call out the plays for me,” says Clar. “If someone was just having a coughing attack, we’d call a timeout and let them breathe a little.”
“We were just taking as much medicine as we could to get ready for the game that night because it definitely is hard when we’re all sick and we can’t work as hard as we can all the time,” says senior forward Jenna LaMere, who is averaging 23.5 points per game and leads the Genesee league in scoring.
Any foul puts them in foul trouble, but their defense is actually their strength- they’ve held their opponents to less than 30 points in nine of the team’s twenty games.
“Well, with our small numbers we know that we definitely have to be careful, but we really feel that defense is what is going to push us to the end,” says LaMere.
Wheatland-Chili enters sectionals as the fourth seed, but they feel they have what it takes to make a run.
“You know, we’re going to be a tough out,” says Ward. “They just have the will to win, they’re tough to beat. Somebody may beat us but it’s not going to be easy. “
And if any team can defy the odds, it’s the Wildcats.