By: Ashley Westbrook
If you've watched the Lady Lions play this season, two words may come to mind. Relentless. Together. If Head Coach, Mike Bona could describe his team using just a few words, these are the words he'd use.
"Relentless in regard to never giving up," he said. "Together because they have really bought into what we're trying to educate and teach them on, and you see it in the way they play."
When the EC Women's Basketball team met at the beginning of the season to determine their core values, the statement, Everyone Matters, was at the top of the player developed list.
"We have a great group of seniors that really treat everyone as an equal," Coach Bona said. "Everyone on our team matters. Whether you're a senior, a freshmen, whether you're playing or not, everybody matters. We've approached the season from that mindset, and it's been really exciting to see them take that and run with it."
This mindset and style of play led the Lady Lions to a Conference Carolinas Championship win in the school's first year as a full-member of NCAA Division II, after a five-year membership process.
The acceptance into the NCAA however didn't change anything for this year's team, as they focused on taking the season one step, one day, one game at a time.
"Our goal was to make the Conference tournament," Coach Bona said. "We wanted to finish in the top four, which meant we'd be able to host a first-round game."
Coach Bona knew this year's team had a chance to do something special, but it took a tough loss at North Greenville for everything to click for the Lady Lions.
"Usually when you have a game like that and you lose, the team can get discouraged and sometimes you can't recover from it," he said. "This team, they decided after that loss that they'd learn from it and from that point on their approach in practice and in games changed."
After the North Greenville loss, the Lady Lions went onto win 11 consecutive games to finish out the season, and Coach Bona couldn't be happier, especially for his seniors that led the way.
"I've felt blessed to be able to coach our seniors, we're going to miss them," Coach Bona said. "I'm so happy for them that they've accomplished what they have, having to wait for their moment. I know they're excited about playing on Friday and hopefully keeping our season going."
Next the Lady Lions will head to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional where they'll face a familiar foe in North Georgia tomorrow at 2:30p.m. The contest will be played at Anderson University.
"We played against them in the Conference Challenge at the beginning of the year," Coach Bona said. "They are a really good team and they've played a lot of games since then, but so have we."
Tomorrow's game will be a challenging, however Coach Bona knows the Lady Lions will be prepared. He's confident that the team will be relentless and play together, just as they have all season long.