Faith is a belief in the unseen or the unknown.
It can be faith in one's ability, faith in doing what has never been done or faith in a teammate.
It's also what propelled New Boston to its first ever outright SOC I girls basketball title with a 62-48 victory over Western Pike Monday night.
Coming into the game, New Boston had already secured at least a share of the title, something that had not occurred since 1994. The Lady Indians needed a win to force a three-way tie.
The Lady Tigers' tale started five years ago when the girls team was restarted after a hiatus. After a couple of losing seasons, coach Rachel Coriell took over and the program began to rise from the bottom of the SOC I.
The girls on the Lady Tigers' varsity roster have played together since grade school and, according to Coriell, had faith that the SOC I title was theirs - it was just a matter of time.
“These girls wanted it and worked hard,” said Coriell. “They deserve this and the respect that comes with it.
“They have been telling me for a couple years now that they'd be SOC I champs,” she added.
Despite the 14-point win, the game was never completely in hand for New Boston.
The Lady Indians turned immediately to their senior leader Kaylee Helton. Helton scored nine of Western Pike's first 12 points, but got into foul trouble and scored only one point in the following two quarters.
“I think when (Helton) picked up her fourth foul our kids kind of got more down,” said Western Pike coach Darren Lightle. “The highlight of the game for us is that we were down 20 going into the fourth quarter and we cut it back to 12. Our kids didn't give up.”
Helton had her best quarter in the fourth with only minutes left in her SOC I career. Helton scored 10 points to lead the comeback but when Western Pike missed four open shots in a row, the effort fell short. Helton finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The leader for New Boston was Kayla Wiley. The sophomore guard scored 17 points with 17 rebounds and constantly provided a steadying force for New Boston - but she didn't do it alone.
Katie Williams scored 12 points with nine rebounds and junior Tasha Buckley scored 10 points in the win. Freshman Missy Buckley added eight points and Tabi Euton scored six points with seven rebounds. Ginger Horsely scored two points to round out the scoring for New Boston.
The significance of being the first team in school history to win sole possession of an SOC I girls basketball title wasn't lost on the elder Buckley.
“To be the first team to win outright,” said Tasha Buckley. “It feels awesome.”
The Lady Tigers outrebounded Western Pike 61-33 and junior Tiffany Malone added 12 rebounds with her seven points in the win. Malone has battled injuries all season but provided a spark for the Lady Tigers early on by taking hard charges and diving for loose balls.
“We've been at this since eighth grade,” said Malone. “It means a lot to us. We got our losing done and we're moving up.”
Western Pike's Sarah Stratman was its only scorer in double figures besides Helton with 13 points.
The Lady Indians shot 23 percent from the field and wrap up the regular season with a 14-6 record and 10-4 mark in the SOC I which puts them in a tie with Clay for second place. Western Pike begins tournament play against Clay at Northwest on Thursday at 8 p.m.
New Boston finishes the regular season at 16-4 and an SOC I best 12-2 in the conference.
After the win the girls and some fans lifted Wiley up on their shoulders. Moments earlier those same fans had been chanting :13, 4:13” in reference to a bible passage that Wiley said is a team saying.
Philippians 4:13 states “I can do all things through the Lord who strengthens me,” and with an SOC I title in hand, the Lady Tigers' faith is running strong.
“We're not finished yet,” said Buckley. “We have a good shot at getting to the regional tournament.”
New Boston will begin that task Saturday at Northwest against the winner of the South Webster-Fairfield matchup at 2:45 p.m.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at email@example.com
Western Pike 12 10 7 19 - 48
New Boston 14 17 17 14 - 62
Western Pike - Helton 7 6 21, Stratman 2 9 13, Darling 4 0 8, Riley 2 2 6. Totals 15 17 48.
New Boston - Wiley 8 1 17, Williams 6 0 12, M. T. Buckley 4 2 10, M. Buckley 3 2 8, Malone 3 1 7, Euton 3 0 6, Murphy 1 0 2. Totals 28 6 62.
3-pointers - Western Pike 1 (Helton); New Boston none
Records - Western Pike 14-6 (10-4); New Boston 16-4 (12-2)