Shadyside’s tournament run won’t soon be forgotten

Baylee Wach (25) surveys the action.

COLUMBUS — If someone had told Shadyside’s girls basketball team that it would win 24 games, a district and regional championship and play on the biggest stage in Ohio at the Schottenstein Center, it’s a safe bet that any of the 12 players and two coaches would have signed up for that in a moment’s notice.

Usually, however, once the train of success gets rolling, the competitive juices take over and players and coaches always want more.

The harsh reality of the matter — as girls basketball season hits its final day — is that only four teams in Ohio are going to end their season with the ultimate prize and call themselves state champions.

Unfortunately, Shadyside won’t be one of those teams after the Lady Tigers dropped a tough, 50-43, setback to Ottoville Friday afternoon in the Division IV state semifinals.

“Every day we came into the gym, this group gave it everything they had,” a disappointed, but extremely proud, Serge Gentile said of his team. “We got to this point in the season because of the girls’ efforts.”

Shadyside will return from the state capital at some point today to a much-deserved rousing ovation from its fans along ‘The Loop.’

Actually, the Lady Tigers received their first ovation inside Value City Arena when their droves of Orange-clad fans acknowledged their effort and season with a standing ovation as they departed the court.

“It’s definitely tough to see (the season) end, but it was a great ride,” Shadyside senior Syd Destifanes said as she fought back emotion.

Destifanes — the engine that made Shadyside go — was one of four seniors who helped to added another brilliant chapter to Lady Tigers’ history.

The others are Macy Coffland, Jaycee Mayeres and Haleigh Osman. While the seniors led the way, Gentile made sure he pointed out that it took the contributions of all 12 players to make this season a reality.

“We couldn’t have made a run like this without all 12 girls coming every day willing to do whatever it took,” Gentile said.

Basketball is truly a team sport and everyone must accept her role for the team’s best interest.

Shadyside’s girls defined that. Their chemistry was exceptional all season. Winning trumped everything and when you have 12 people on the same page, in that regard, success will follow like it did for the Tigers.

While many of the players will go on to either softball or track, beginning on Monday, the process of fully appreciating the accomplishments listed above will begin.

A lot of the time it takes several weeks, months and even years before the sting of coming up short wears off enough to even begin to realize what playing in the OHSAA State Girls Basketball Tournament actually means and how difficult it is.

“It’s probably going to take a little bit of time to fully appreciate what they accomplished,” Gentile said. “(Getting to the state tournament) is a tough thing to do.”

Indeed it is.

And when you consider how tough it really is, it makes the fact that Shadyside has appeared in four state tournaments since the turn of the century even more remarkable.

The next closest OVAC member school in terms of appearances? It’s a tie between Cambridge (2011) and Fort Frye (2013) at one.

While those four aforementioned seniors won’t have the opportunity to put on their Tigers jersey again, the process of trying to make another run will begin shortly for the solid cast of underclassmen, which includes all-Ohio sophomore Baylee Wach, who scored a team-high 17, and her running mate Tory Hendershot.

“I don’t think (this run or season) has really even hit any of us yet,” Wach said. “How far we’ve come and what we did was great. I absolutely would not have wanted to do this with any other group.”

Staskey can be reached via email at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com or at twitter.com/TLSportsSeth

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