H.S. BASKETBALL | Meade County Players Recount Their Unique Run To The Sweet 16

04/18/2017 06:20 PM

The Meade County Green Wave had one of the most memorable paths to the Sweet 16 in recent history.

“We didn’t have a lot of talent. We just had a lot of hard work and dedication and the team came in every day- even after losses and worked as if they had won ten games in a row,” Said senior James Baker. “They just worked hard and didn’t give up; just a special team.”

They began their season 8-1.

“So, I was like ‘well, this could be pretty good,’” said Coach Jason Tripure.

In that ninth game, they lost their star player, James Baker, to a thumb injury. From there, Meade County lost 19 of their next 20 games.

“We didn’t think we were going to be dramatically affected by it. We thought he [Baker] was going to come back soon, sooner than what we expected and we thought everything would be alright,” explained junior Aidan Matthews. “We knew we weren’t going to win as many games as we were supposed to, but we didn’t think we were going to lose the games we lost and that it was going to affect us that much.”

The regular season wasn’t kind to the Wave, but they kept working hard. Baker assumed more of an assistant coach role.

“All of our losses were close it wasn’t like we were getting blown out,” Tripure added. “There was a few blow-outs but most of them were close games, winnable games. I just kept telling them we know that James is going to come back and we had some other kids get hurt during that losing streak as well. I said at the end ‘we’re all going to be here, we’re all going to be healthy’ and I said ‘look at the teams we have to play in the tournament- we’ve either beat them earlier in the season or were pretty close to them so we’ve got a chance,’ I said you’ve just got to keep working.”

Baker returned just in time for game one of the district tournament- where it is win or go home. They finished runner-up in the district, sending them on to the regional tournament.

“By regional tournament it was kinda like we might have a chance to go [to state] and you’re trying not to think about it because you’ve still got more games ahead of you so it gets you a little nervous,” Matthews told Spectrum News.

Nerves or not, they won the region, sending Meade County to their second Sweet 16 in school history.

“It was everything I could ask for in my senior season because a lot of people didn’t think we’d make it as far as we did,” Baker said.

“We really had nothing to lose, we were a 40-point underdog. I mean, it was going in there and just having fun and maybe pulling out an upset, but it was just a fun, exciting time,” Matthews added.

Despite the early exit from the tournament and the losing record, they consider the season a success.

“I don’t want to lose 19 of 20 games, but if we go to a Sweet 16- I mean there’s only been one other time the school has ever been there, so it’s definitely a success,” Tripure said with a laugh.

They came out of the season stronger and more determined than ever.

“They’re kind of like my brothers now and I don’t think that will ever change- no matter what,” Matthews explained. “It was hard for everyone but we battled through it and it was kind of like a family now and it ain’t ever going to change.”

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