The Pilgrim girls basketball team fell in the opening round of the open state tournament to top-seeded La Salle last week at Cranston East, putting an end to its bounce back campaign.
After making the move to Division III from Division II, the Lady Pats quickly emerged as one of the top teams in the division finishing the regular season with an 14-3 record and advancing all the way to the D3 Championship game.
“Getting the younger girls some experience and looking at what the seniors had to go through over the past three years, to see them have this run was awesome. Each playoff round I would go up to the assistant coaches and say, ‘Can you believe that we’re here right now?’ It was awesome,” said Pilgrim coach Scott Bayha of the run.
Despite the loss, the Pats have already begun looking toward 2019-20, and will be anxious to take the next step forward.
“The young kids are already hungry. They’re already saying that they want to practice tomorrow. The kids that are coming back don’t want that to happen again because they got so close, so I think that will help them,” said Bayha. “We also had some freshmen get into our playoff games. I think in that last game the moment kind of got us, being on that big stage. Our fans were with us the whole way so our kids got to play in front of big crowds with a lot of noise. There were a lot of nerves, but next year the moment won’t be too big which will help them.”
There will also be a new feeling surrounding the team next year, as the Pats will enter the winter as one of the favorites to take home the D3 title.
“Nadine (Ogni) said after the Woonsocket game that we went from being the prey to the predator, and we used that all the time. Now everyone is going to be shooting for us, the shoe will be on the other foot. Other teams will want to be us and we wanted to be like other teams for so many years,” said Bayha, who credited the seniors’ hard work during their time at Pilgrim.
“We wouldn’t have been this team without them. To show up to practice at 6 a.m. on a Saturday after a late Friday game, especially after a loss, they set the example for the younger kids,” said Bayha. “Now it is expected where before it wasn’t, kids would bow out, but (the seniors) showed up, worked hard, and now the younger kids will see that with hard work they can get the results.”