Strenuous schedule leads girl’s basketball team to success

Strenuous schedule leads girls basketball team to success

Brayden Parker

bball
Photo by Morgan Berk

Dot-dot-dot. Dash-dash-dash. Dot-dot-dot.

Harold Bride wanted people to care.

With nine metallic pings, Bride, the radio controller of the RMS Titanic, sent this newly created signal bouncing aimlessly through the air, landing on the telegraphs of all, but noticed only by those who happened to hear the percussive distress signal breaking up the otherwise calm night.

It’s a system, developed in 1905 in Germany, that at the time would solve every disaster and would lessen the chances of already fateful events from turning catastrophic. Yet in hindsight, the most simple combination of Morse Code went highly unnoticed and often left those in peril helpless.

Since it’s inception people have thought these three letters were a mnemonic, standing for cries such as “Save our ship” or “send out succor” yet this series of fingers tapping was no abbreviation, but rather a simple stab at easing the oncoming tragedy.

More than 100 years since the development, the term S.O.S. still reminds the world of failed attempts at saving lives. Yet in the sports world it has become known as a touchy acronym, a frustrating term to sports everywhere.

While no one is clear on the origin of the term, the compilation of certain mathematical factors, calculated together to create a ranking of sorts has plagued teams and coaches across many leagues and levels of sport. As it evolves with each year, the formula becomes more complex, much different than the original function of S.O.S. and it continues to spark debate in media and around the water cooler.

Strength. Of. Schedule.

And this season, Jill Nagel wants her team to care.

Prior to the beginning of the 2013 high school girls basketball season, Nagel, the head coach of the reigning two-time state champion Rock Bridge Bruins, set out to create one of the hardest possible schedules for her team to take part in. And she succeeded.

Starting out the season against two nationally ranked opponents seemed like as good a place to start as any. Although the Lady Bruins started off with two consecutive losses, they came at the hands of Blackman (TN), now the No.3 team in the nation, and to Riverdale (TN), a squad that was nationally ranked to start the season and although are not currently ranked have still amassed 16 wins on the season.

Since their trip to Tennessee in November, the Bruins have been on a roll, collecting 12 straight Ws against not only the best teams in Missouri but also two more nationally ranked foes. RBHS finished up the Deepsnap Tournament of Champions by defeating Northside (AR), the No. 15 team in the country. And most recently on Monday, they took down No. 24 Whitney Young (IL) one of the best schools out of Chicago.

With only a month and a half until the postseason it seems as if the Bruins would settle in and complete the regular season by thwarting other Mid-Missouri teams, but why should they? It’s been said that to be the best you must play the best.

And Nagel and her team of all-stars plan to do just that.

On Jan. 24, the Lady Bruins play at home for just the second time this season taking on Edwardsville (IL). While the Tigers may not be nationally ranked they hold an undefeated record and remain to be the only team to have beaten RBHS in Columbia during the past five seasons.

And if that isn’t enough stay tuned for the Webster Winter Challenge at the beginning of February. Should both teams run the tables, as they are predicted to (and should), the championship game will feature the Bruins against the No. 1 team in America, fellow Missouri powerhouse Incarnate Word.

The Lady Bruins have for certain been rewarded for their success in this schedule that so many teams aren’t brave enough to endure. They currently hold a 12-2 record, impressive for any school, but are also the No. 11 team in the country, sitting just outside the top 10.

From the outside these accolades seem rewarding enough. Throw in the tournament titles they possess as well and RBHS seems to have concocted quite a season already. Yet in previous years the Lady Bruins have set the bar extraordinarily high and look forward to top their back to back state titles.

To accomplish this they will have to run through the district and state brackets, which have proved relatively easy in past years. And come March they will continue to be the odds on favorite to take care of routine business and remain at the top.

But this is easier said than done. Anytime the top team enters a tournament, the target is on their back and they are vulnerable at any moment. Often the best team can be plagued with over confidence and a feeling of already achieved superiority. That may just be the point of the regular season, to dissolve that confidence and to teach the in-game skills that just can’t be learned in practice.

Nagel’s squad has done just that by setting out on the toughest schedule in recent history. It has taught them the resilience to fight back in tough games and pull out big wins. It has taught them the focus to push through and keep getting better. Most notably it has taught them the patience to sit through the opening two losses and putting it quickly behind them. Starting the season in such fashion and knowing the similar teams that lay in the near future it would have been simple to send out an S.O.S of sorts and lose sight of the season.

All of these intangibles are what make this team primed to be one of the best in school history. That seems extremely hard to do when making comparisons with recent Bruin squads yet should they close this season out they will be just that.

And it all starts with Nagel’s realization of the purpose of strength of schedule. It wasn’t to boost her teams rankings. It wasn’t to win an award or notoriety. But to prepare her seasoned group to manage whatever struggles might come their way.

Finally, someone realized the importance of S.O.S.

Harold Bride would be proud.
By Brayden Parker