MIAMISBURG — Backing up to get set on defense in the second half, Francis Park sprung into the frontcourt to deflect a pass.
Later in the fourth quarter, Caroline Kensinger found herself with the ball in the paint multiple plays in a row to score crucial baskets.
Alli Graves in the closing minute of the game calmly sank a free throw to help solidify her team’s win.
Those three plays may be examples of the “courage” Legacy Christian head coach Mark Combs referred to after the Knights’ game on Thursday which he says the players are building this season.
“You have to have the courage to do things that you’ve never done before and if it doesn’t go your way, then have the resolve to be able to pick yourself back up and get back into the fight and we are getting better at that,” he said.
Legacy is 6-4 overall and 4-0 in Metro Buckeye Conference play following its 43-29 win at Dayton Christian on Thursday. The reigning league champs have remained unbeaten in a different manner than last year when it had a superstar in Emma Hess, who won the Division IV player of the year award in Ohio, and three other All-MBC players.
With nearly 75 percent of the team’s scoring having graduated, a young group of 10 with seven underclassmen are being thrust into new roles quickly.
“Girls across the board are being asked to do things for us that they were never asked to do before,” Combs said. “All of that kind of responsibility is what we gave to the group from last year. Any time a girl from this group came in last year, she was a role player. And it was a very specific role, which was close to ‘don’t screw it up.’”
All kidding aside, this year’s group is embracing its team mentality. Heading into Thursday’s game, only Park was averaging more than 10 points per game. Next in line were eight players between 3.3 and 5.2.
The balance was on display again against DC as eight different players scored at least three points and none were in double figures.
“I told them in [the locker room] that was a team win, and that’s what you guys are, the essence of a team,” Combs said. “You look at our stats and there’s like 10, 8, 8, 6, 4, 5, and that’s just who we are. There can be strength in going into playing a team and them not really being sure who’s going to be the person that night. It could be anyone.”
Park had nine points in the first quarter before seeing her teammates control the remainder of the game.
Sydney Logsden made all of her five in the second quarter. Kensinger combined with Audrey Stanley to score 14 of the team’s 18 in the second half.
The Knights also showed its defensive prowess by not allowing Dayton Christian to make a field goal until just under four minutes remaining until halftime, and a banked in three-pointer was its only make of the half.
The performance on Thursday was part of a bigger picture for how the Knights are not allowing themselves to have a letdown season. New players handling the ball, taking shots they would not have before, and learning how to play through mistakes made on the court.
Combs said there’s a certain balance the team is still learning between maintaining its original balanced attitude for the good of the team while at the same time knowing when to step up and take on a lead role.
The Knights may be a young group, but it’s one which is becoming more consistent in its play and learning how to do things on the fly.
“I see the girls taking the challenge of doing stuff that they haven’t had to do before and we’re not always successful and that’s why at times it doesn’t look the best,” Combs said. “With such a young group you can project it forward and know if they just keep doing what they’re doing, then we’re going to keep improving and that’s what we want to do.”