Girls Basketball team ends an inspiring season

By Kyle Cusick, News Editor — Perfection was the GlenOak Lady Eagles Basketball team this 2016-2017 season until seven seconds remained in the Canton District Final when North Canton Hoover regained possession and shooting a three-pointer giving the Lady Eagles District Runner-Up medals. The team, Eagle fans and people all around the state were surprised to see the Eagles’ near perfect season come to an end so suddenly.

Throughout the season the Eagles’ earned high state poll rankings, beat school records, and congratulatory signs for winning the Federal League Championship outright. Not only did they win the title, but they were unbeaten in doing so. According to head coach Paul Wackerly, this was the best GlenOak girls’ basketball team since the 1989 Final Four team.

“These girls made a decision all the way back in April 2016 that we were going to build a good program,” Wackerly said. “A story was going to be told for years to come.”

This story will continue to be told as this 20-1 regular season roster was filled with freshmen, sophomores, juniors and four determined and impactful seniors.

“We are going to have to work hard and see who will be next up. At GlenOak we do not go by who has played and who is leaving, our players’ legacies never leave and the younger ones step in and continue to build upon these legacies day by day and year by year,” Wackerly said.

The impact of the seniors was felt on and off the court. These seniors led by example and taught the team to relax but to work hard.

“The seniors taught us that we are fine,” sophomore guard Jade Abdulla said. “They took the younger girls under their wing and treated them exactly how anyone would want to be treated. I appreciate everything they have done for me and this team. It is going to be hard to see them go.”

The girls started their training for this season in early spring and worked almost everyday through summer and fall to reach the goals they had set for this season. The Eagles’ season was evidence for an improvement in team chemistry on and off the court. A championship, an incredible record, numerous glowing articles in the Canton Repository and senior Dai’Shona Polk reached 1,000 career points scored in high school.

“This season we all actually got along well and played as a team and trusted each other no matter what grade we were in. Our team chemistry allowed for our team success this season,” Polk said.

Wackerly also noticed a change in team chemistry from previous years and contributed this factor to the teams’ almost perfect season.

“The chemistry of this team was very special. We had seniors, juniors, sophomores and some freshmen and our upper classmen accepted those players not only as teammates but as friends,” Wackerly said. “They were allowed to have ownership now and didn’t have to wait when they would be seniors to lead.”

The team will reflect on the season as preparation for the season to come and work to change the outcome of the District Final game to a victorious one.

“This season was a great season because of the obstacles we overcame. Starting out this season, no one really saw us as a threat or saw the ability and potential we had. Throughout the summer and fall we saw that our team was something real. When the season began we started winning some big games. As the target on our back became bigger and bigger, we trusted the process, and worked harder and harder. We upset teams that we weren’t originally supposed to beat and we took number one in the Federal League. We created something so special and made memories I’ll never forget. This was the year we let people all around know who GlenOak was. This year was the start and end of many girls’ stories, but the beginning of a story for the GlenOak Lady Eagles,” Abdulla said.

The spirit and determination of the Lady Eagles’ this season was mirrored in the loud and proud student body that came to support the Eagles’ at many of their games this season. Game themes were established as well as state rankings. The Lady Eagles’ remained a top mark in the MaxPreps state poll for the majority of their season. Although they are not playing for a Regional title or State title the committed Eagles’ now look to the future, starting the process all over again when off season training begins in the early spring. Thank you for you talent, leadership and work ethic seniors, we continue to share your pride as an Eagle.

[Updated Aug. 20, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]