The emotion stemming from a close loss can lead to tears.
Or, as Westminster girls basketball coach Greg Wilson said, it can be the impetus for change.
The Lady Wildcats took a tough loss in region play last season but have used it to spark a 19-8 season and a trip to the GISA Class AAA Final Four – the first appearance in team history.
“You can make this a crying moment – and it is sad – but you can make this a turnaround moment,” Wilson said he told his team after the two-point loss to Bulloch in last season’s Region 4-AAA tournament.
Since then, Westminster has worked hard to make up for any deficit in talent with teamwork.
“It’s my favorite basketball moment,” said Wilson, the former Augusta State women’s coach who took the Lady Jaguars to the Elite Eight in 2004. “It’s been very special for me to watch.”
In his third season as Westminster’s coach, Wilson has leaned on veterans to achieve the program’s best run and build tradition for a school dominated by soccer success. Those players include Javona Douglas, Anna Hearon, Ivey Herrington and Samantha Trobaugh. Hearon and Trobaugh average a combined 20.3 points per game, with Trobaugh averaging 7.8 rebounds.
Hearon, who shoots better than 40 percent from 3-point range, said she believed this success was possible if the team played well consistently.
The Lady Wildcats might have to play their best game yet to advance to the championship. In the semifinals Friday, Westminster takes on Arlington Christian, a three-time defending state champion with a ferocious press.
Wilson, who called it a David vs. Goliath matchup, said the handling pressure will be a major factor in the outcome.
Given Westminster’s tempo and Arlington Christian’s talent and size Wilson said there could be as many as 20 turnovers.
The difference, he said, will be whether Westminster can get back quickly to limit transition scores.
That challenge might be big, but the Lady Wildcats aren’t conceding defeat.
“It’s going to be hard,” Hearon said. “But I think we’ll be ready for it.”