The Fillies threw conventional wisdom out the window this season as they took huge strides under first-year head coach Jon Weinrich.
Tuesday the team met at the American Legion Club along with family and friends to celebrate the season at their annual year-end banquet sponsored by the Shenandoah Chapters of Beta Sigma Phi and catered by the Sanctuary.
"This was my first experience coaching girls' basketball, and it was great, mostly because 1 through 26 these are phenomenal individuals," Weinrich told the crowd of his players. "They are all very respectful and a pleasure to coach."
A season ago the Fillies won just one game, this year that total jumped to seven, which was only one short of the school record.
Included in that win total was a season sweep of rival Red Oak, a win over Clarinda and a big victory over Atlantic on the Fillies' "Pink Out" night.
"I want to win and I want to do that the right way," he said. "After every game and every practice we asked ourselves two questions: did we get better, and are we proud of our effort? I can't think of too many times when the answer to those questions wasn't yes.
"I was very proud of what we accomplished this season."
Weinrich stressed the way the season ended for the Fillies gives him a lot of hope for the future of the program. Not only because they played their best quarter of the season as they almost came back to beat Riverside, but the attitude they displayed in doing so.
"You always want to be playing your best basketball when the post-season comes around," said Weinrich. "For three quarters that didn't happen, but we all know what happened in the fourth quarter. If we had a few more minutes I like our chances.
"The most important part is the fact that we thought we could do that. We played the best eight minutes of the season."
Another positive sign for the future of the program was the fact that Weinrich had to say good-bye to just two seniors Tuesday. However, he said both Nikki Akers and Sabrina Bergen will be missed.
"The worst part about being a coach is how hard it is to say good-bye to the seniors," said Weinrich. "Sabrina is a tremendous kid and we're going to miss having her around.
"One thing I knew about Nikki was that she was always listening. She is very respectful and is a phenomenal kid. The last two weeks of the season something clicked with her, and she played phenomenal."
Weinrich gave both seniors a gift, and also honored Akers with a basketball for ending her career with the highest free-throw percentage in school history, both for one season and a career.
Both Fillie seniors were also part of the Hawkeye 10 academic all-conference team, as was senior cheerleader Ashleigh Sons.
As a team, both the basketball and cheerleading squads earned the academic achievement award.
Weinrich ended by saying that as much as he enjoyed his first season and is proud of what the team accomplished, he expects even more next year.
"It was a great season and I'm proud of what we accomplished, but I'm not satisfied," he said. "Things don't come free and things don't come easy. This summer we need to work hard.
"We have seven returning-varsity starters, we are blessed with competition. We have nine people coming back on the varsity, but if they don't work hard they might be passed up.
"I wish I could tell you if you come every day during the summer and work hard that you will have a varsity jersey. I can't do that, but I can tell if you come every day you'll get better. You get what you earn."
Members of the 2008-09 Fillie basketball team are:
Seniors: Nikki Akers, Sabrina Bergen.
Juniors: Kayla Adamson, Kristin Comstock, Jessica Lambertsen, Leah McIntosh, Kylie Perkins.
Sophomores: Karen Fischer, Katie Johnson, Rachel Johnson, Madison Saner, Ashley Vannausdle, Caitlyn Weigel.
Freshmen: Samantha Baker, Brittany Comstock, Bailey DeBolt, Devin Edds, Anna Hart, Frankie Hughes, Mackenzie Johnson, Haley Lembrick, Jourdan Perkins, Emily Ray, Brooke Schoonover, Jamie Schubert.
Coaches: Jon Weinrich (head), Bryan Diekmann.
Managers: Drucella Gustafson, Myrissa Comstock.
Cheerleaders: Cara Burroughs, Annalee Gerner, Kayla Jensen, Kimberlee Jones, Ashton Mayer, Trisha McAllister, Jocelyn Perryman, Ashleigh Sons, Kyra Wortman, coach Angela Trowbridge.