The difference is teamwork

By Phil Crossman | Mar 10, 2017

Vinalhaven’s Lady Vikings travelled by bus back to Rockland after decisively winning the state’s Class D basketball championship last Saturday in Bangor.

When they crossed into Lincolnville, they acquired, courtesy of that community, a police and fire escort, and as they approached Rockland, the escort vehicles from other coastal towns joined in until, arriving at the Rockland ferry terminal for a late night ride back across the bay, they’d gathered quite a supportive entourage.

They certainly deserved it. These girls, who’ve been playing basketball with one another since the fifth grade, had, by last Saturday, become a cohesive and talented team of ball handlers. They have been described by parents, teachers and their two outstanding coaches as an extraordinary group, all good students, each humble and focused on winning instead of on themselves and, as a unit, a nearly unbeatable — and maybe by season’s end, in fact, unbeatable — and cohesive team.

These girls are all juniors, which means, of course, that they’ll be back — all of them even stronger and more capable, next year. This is the first time a coveted Gold Ball has found its way to Vinalhaven, in spite of our having produced some outstanding individual players, e.g., John Buteau in the early '60s and Raymond Alley in the late '80s.

The difference has been teamwork. The Vinalhaven Lady Vikings are a smoothly operating machine and to watch them is to understand and applaud the clear results and rewards of having been playing such mutually complementary basketball for so long. They, like Sandy Nelson, head coach, and Sam Bickford, assistant coach, left their egos in the locker room long ago and come onto the court, as they have for years and certainly this season, with a single winning focus.

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