The Solanco girl's varsity basketball team wanted desperately to equal or exceed their 10 win season of last year, but fell two wins short ending the 2007/08 season at 8-15. "I'm disappointed, but I continue to see the program raising the level of play," said Solanco head coach, Tom McDonald. "I think we had some under achievers and losing Morgan Jackson to hand surgery didn't help either. She was our second leading scorer before her surgery."Solanco had some highs this season despite a seven consecutive game losing streak near the end of the season. The Mules lost by only three points to Lampeter-Strasburg in a game McDonald says cast a dark cloud over the team for a brief time. "That was a confidence buster," said McDonald. "A win there would have been big and we were so close." L-S ended the season as one of the league's best and made an appearance in the P.I.A.A. playoffs.
Following that devastating defeat the Mules regrouped and eventually came back with a four-game win streak including a 56-43 win over eventual Section II champion, Garden Spot. For the first time in school history the Mules won their 2007 Holiday Tournament. In addition, the Mules could have folded near the end of the season, but instead won three in a row after their 7-0 run of defeats. "I can honestly say these girls never gave up on me," said McDonald. "They played hard, but sometimes lost their focus."
McDonald is confident the program continues on the rise. "We had exceptional talent on the junior high level and I suspect a few of those girls will make an immediate jump to the varsity" said McDonald. "Plus we've got Taylor Kreider back and Morgan Erb, who was the biggest surprise of this past season."
The second year coach said his biggest disappointment was losing Jackson near the midway point of the season. "No question she was the heart and soul of our team prior to her surgery," said McDonald. "She was a true leader. Went to Team Camp, came up with a baseline jumper that placed her near double digits in average points scored. She would make a great varsity assistant some day. She could coach some day for sure."
McDonald has always been high on Jackson's defense and hustle, but according to Coach Mac the loss of her offensive contributions really hurt this season.
Solanco will also lose the team's leading scorer, Cece Buzzard, who McDonald says he will miss despite having a love/hate relationship the past two years. "Yeah, I was disappointed that as a captain she chose not to go to Team Camp, but what can you say about a player that averages in double figures," said McDonald. " We had our moments and I think sometimes she let her frustrations interfere with her game, but she's a great kid and I wish her well at the next level. She has the potential to excel. She suffered through a foot injury all season and still was one of the most intense practice players I've ever coached."
McDonald said one of his objectives is to fill a coaching vacancy that has existed for two seasons. "I'd love to have a woman join our staff," said McDonald, who admitted it's sometimes tough to enter a locker room without embarrassing himself and the girls. McDonald said having a daughter helps understanding moods and attitudes, but the current situation does create challenges. "I'm always hoping a teacher will volunteer to assist in coaching, but so far no one has come forward," said McDonald. "It's a huge time commitment."
McDonald, who on one occasion spent a Saturday (9 a.m.-3 p.m.), watching elementary games at Providence Elementary, said he is extremely grateful for Rec league coaches. "I consider searching for talent part of my job," said McDonald. "Plus I enjoy all the parents and fans yelling at someone else, instead of me."
The Solanco coach is already excited about next season and said there is a possibility that Lancaster Catholic will be added to the non-league schedule. "I think our program has gained the respect of other coaches and I want our team to compete against the best," said McDonald. "To my way of thinking that's the only way you're going to get better at playing the game."
This year the Solanco girls will drop their Holiday Tournament and instead compete in Central York's competition between the Christmas and New Year break.
But before that event winning the Twin Valley Tip-Off Tournament is paramount in McDonald's mind. That and earning the Section title and a District playoff spot. "And I'd like our team to win eight or more games for sure," said the coach.