OAKLAND – It was a magical 2016-2017 for Messalonskee girls basketball.
The Eagles went undefeated in the regular season, one that culminated in a state championship.
“We don’t really spend a lot of time, we talk about last year here and there but most of our conversations are about this year,” head coach Keith Derosby said.
Most teams that go undefeated come into the next season with high expectations, but the Eagles are reserved when it comes to their championship aspirations.
“Who knows, I don’t know. Hopefully, that’d be cool but I think every team has a chance to win a state championship this year,” guard and forward Ally Turner said.
Messalonskee lost quite a few playmakers and are expecting big contributions from players who have never played big minutes.
“Yea we may have a target but it’s a different season so we don’t have that expectation for us personally of how good we should be,” guard and forward Makayla Wilson said.
Wins and losses act as the measuring stick for teams, but sometimes there’s a little too much stock put into them in high school sports.
It’s really supposed to be about fun in the end. That message rings true at Messalonskee as Derosby rewards his players with interesting little trinkets come February such as rubber duckies, team ribbons or little Nerf guns.
Whatever the gift may be, Derosby doesn’t have to break the bank to give his players something that’ll last them a lifetime beyond the court.
“It’s little things that we keep striving for yea it may be little gifts but those are the most exciting things throughout the season we get,” Wilson said.
There’s a special vibe around this Messalonskee program. Despite a tough opening night loss to Hampden there is still a perfect blend of focus and fun, the playoff prizes are a unique part of the Eagles culture.
“It’s nice it humanizes the whole thing I think it’s more than just coach and player. They really are an extension of your family and parents hand these kids over to you for a good portion of the year and they’re your responsibility,” Derosby said.