2017-01-19 / Sports

Coach bids adieu amid nine-game win streak

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


NORTHPORT PLAYERS present flowers, a plaque and a banner to coach Casey Wilcox at Monday’s home game. Wilcox, who is stepping down to pursue a new career, led the Lady Wildcats to a 9-1 start this winter. Photo: Dan Duffiney NORTHPORT PLAYERS present flowers, a plaque and a banner to coach Casey Wilcox at Monday’s home game. Wilcox, who is stepping down to pursue a new career, led the Lady Wildcats to a 9-1 start this winter. Photo: Dan Duffiney The Northport girls sent their coach off a winner on Tuesday.

The farewell, a 38-16 road victory over Burt Lake NMCA, was only fitting considering what the Lady Wildcats accomplished under Casey Wilcox in just 10 games this season.

“We’re handling it the best we can,” said junior center Elycia Shawnoskey, who finished with 10 rebounds. “It’s very emotional, seeing as how she made our basketball program. She let us be ourselves. She let us play the way we want to play and she basically let us coach ourselves. She has a lot of leeway with what we expect from each other and the encouragement we get from each other. She really gave us a voice within the team.”

Wilcox, who will officially step down tomorrow to begin training for her new job at Set Seg, didn’t need a full season to teach Northport players her winning formula. She’s been doing that on the hardwood, on the pitch and in the classroom for the last eight years.

The Lady Wildcats (9-1, 1-0 Cherryland), who are yet to lose a game in regulation this winter, have learned how to win — and it shows in the way they compete defensively.

Northport showcased its defensive pedigree in the second half against Burt Lake NMCA, limiting the Eagles to just five points in the 22-point victory.

Jasmin Denny led the way with a huge game, finishing with 12 steals to go with six points and six rebounds.

“She was just running up and down the floor picking pockets,” Wilcox said. “She took the ball from girls while they were dribbling and anticipated passes.”

To be fair, few teams have had success against Northport’s zone this year.

The team gives up just 22.7 points per game and has limited nine straight teams to 25 or fewer points.

Defense is one part of the winning formula. Balanced scoring is another.

Sarah Reynolds was the top scorer on Tuesday, finishing with 13 points to go with eight rebounds and four steals. Joan Ogemaw reached double figures, as well, with 10 points.

“We include everybody in every shot we make and try to get everybody to put at least one point on the scoreboard,” Shawnoskey said. “We’re working together and staying strong through the whole process.”

The process of racking off nine straight wins has included two narrow victories over Leland. The second was a 26-22 home win over the Comets (1-6, 1-3 Northwest) on Monday.

Wilcox said the win was in many ways a mirror image of Northport’s 27-24 win at Leland on Dec. 1, although she noticed something different.

“The difference was the attitude of our girls,” she said. “The first time we played them, we were down one at halftime. We were so excited to be that close to Leland. This time we were up three at half, and they weren’t happy with that. It was a change in how they look at the game, not being satisfied with less than their best. They’re always wanting to do more.”

Denny finished with a game-high 10 points. Ogemaw added eight.

Kira Metcalf and Margie Stowe led Leland with five points apiece.

Leon Chimosky, formerly the Northport boys JV coach, will step in for Wilcox on Tuesday when the Wildcats go for their 10th straight win against visiting Alba.

The Comets, who were slated to host Onekama after press time last night, will hit the hardwood tomorrow for a league matchup with visiting Benzie.

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