To hear head coach Kelly McVay tell it, her girls don’t have a clue what seed they are in the 2A playoffs.
This, despite the fact that social media and local news outlets were abuzz with brackets and seeding for the postseason that begins tomorrow, when the No. 9 Bartlett Yancey Bucs host the No. 24 Beddingfield Bruins.
On Monday night, a reporter put that to the test, asking senior captain Keelie Chattin what seed her team had earned after a 17-2 overall record that included a 12-0 conference record and a conference tournament championship.
“I have no clue, honestly,” Chattin said. “We don’t pay attention to that. We just play. Before every game, coach always says, play one inning games. Each inning, play it like a new game.”
All of that will be especially true as the girls head into the playoffs, where the goal, says McVay, is one made famous by legendary North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano and his 1983 national championship team: survive and advance.
“I told them from day one, you’re the underdog, and you’re the hunter,” McVay said. “The bottom line is, you’ve got to go out and compete.”
After a run to the fourth round of the playoffs a year ago, a superb class of seniors graduated from BY in 2018. Expectations were low coming into this season.
“My only expectation was to compete,” McVay said. “Honestly, it was just to come out and compete because I think most people, after everybody graduated last year, most people just said, ‘Okay, they’re done.’ Because we’re young.”
Chattin echoed those sentiments.
“I thought, man, this might not be good,” Chattin said of the outlook on the season.
Fellow senior captain Brianna Andrews had a different perspective on things. She saw the low expectations as an opportunity for a young group to capitalize on.
“I knew we would have to step up more, because it was more of a breeze for us last year because we had all of those seniors and they were such leaders,” Andrews said. “I was ready to take on a leadership position, but as a team overall, I knew we would have some kinks to work out, but I was confident we would.”
The Bucs came out in their first game of the season against a strong 3A squad in the Cedar Ridge Red Wolves and got pummeled, 19-8, including a forgettable inning that saw the visitors commit a bevy of errors.
The next game was another 3A foe in Northeast Guilford and the Bucs found themselves down three runs and seemingly en route to another loss heading into the final half frame. Instead, the Bucs rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to seal a season-changing 5-4 victory.
“That win showed a lot about this team,” McVay said. “And just how gritty they could be.”
From there, the Bucs started to click on and off the field.
“We’ve become closer as a team and a family,” said sophomore Brittany Osborne. “Before games some of us will go out to eat together. On the bus we normally have a lot of fun listening to music.”
Andrews said the team has grown in a specific area, and it’s helped them be successful.
“We didn’t have a lot of communication and we didn’t play as well as a team,” Andrews said. “But as we’ve played more and more together, we’ve grown so much stronger and our communication has gotten so much better. We’re like one big family now.”
The Bucs are gearing up for what they hope is a long playoff run. Should they beat Beddingfield Tuesday, they will face the winner of Richlands and Golsboro. The teams are ranked No. 8 and No. 25, respectively.
Not that the Bucs, nor their coach, would know.
“We don’t look at the schedule, and the seedings, and they know we don’t discuss it,” McVay said. “We don’t mention winning the state championship, or the conference, but they know that’s what we want to do. You just got to survive and advance.”