Bobcats play with heavy heartsPublished 8:53pm Tuesday, February 12, 2013
It’s was an emotional rollercoaster ride last week for the Brandywine girls basketball team.
Coach Josh Hood and several of his players attended the funeral of former Brandywine standout Ellie Price, who was tragically killed in a recent automobile accident Feb. 4. She was 19 years old.
Last Tuesday, the No. 2-ranked Lady Bobcats traveled the short distance across town to play a non-conference game at Niles. They managed to keep their emotions in-check to remain unbeaten (14-0) with a 63-31 victory over the Lady Vikings.
Price played basketball for two years at Brandywine and was promoted to the varsity squad for the district tournament during her sophomore year, teaming with a handful of the current players. She also played on the Brandywine softball team.
“Ellie was a part of our program until her junior year,” Hood said. “Our girls were close to her. They’ve had a tough week. They had the viewing and funeral (Monday). She was a special kid.
“It kind of puts basketball in perspective. (Monday) when our girls came from the funeral, we got a chance to sit back and reflect. But it was tough to concentrate on basketball when you lose one of your good friends. It’s hard from a coaching standpoint, but when you’re a kid and you lose a close friend, it really hits home.”
Life goes on, but the memory of their fallen teammate and friend is likely to further motivate a talented group of Lady Bobcats.
“It definitely hit us hard and it’s still unreal for everyone,” senior Mackenzie Shelton said. “It’s hard to think that she was roaming the halls of our school just last year. For her to have her life taken away so fast was very hard for all of us.”
“The day before the (Niles) game, we said we would make the game for her and we did,” added senior Rachael Ort. “At first we struggled a little bit, but we went out there and played hard, just like she would want us to do.”
“She was probably one of the most stubborn, but happiest people I’ve ever met,” said senior Victoria Knight. “She always had a smile on her face, even when she was getting in trouble. She was something else, and we will never forget her smile. She lit up the room with a smile on her face and the way she laughed.”
Hood expressed his pride in the way his team responded in the face of tragedy against Niles.
“It shows these girls’ character to have such a tragic accident and have one of their close friends pass and then come out and play the way they did,” he said. “It seemed like after the first few minutes of the game there was an extra gear; maybe more motivation to go out there and get that win for Ellie and put everything behind us.
“Our kids really responded well, and of course it’s going to be on their minds for a long time. It’s something they’ll never forget, but it says a lot about their character that they were able to persevere under those circumstances.”
With four regular-season games remaining, and expectations for another deep run in the state tournament, the Lady Bobcats will play with an angel on their collective shoulders for the balance of the season.
“(Ellie) lived her life just the way she wanted to, and it’s sad that her life was taken so fast, but she was one happy girl,” Ort said. “We know she’s happy, we know she’s looking down on us and watching over us.”