When the ball went through the net, Swallows Charter Academy junior Maddie Wertsbaugh couldn’t believe it.
“I was astonished — yeah, that’s a good word, astonished,” she said.
Wertsbaugh received a pass at half court with less than 20 seconds to go, dribbled to the basket with a defender on her tight and made the go-ahead layup to give SCA a 53-51 lead over Dolore Huerta last Thursday at Swallows Charter Academy gymnasium.
The Lady Spartans held on to win the game 53-52, beating the Scorpions for the first time in school history.
Wertsbaugh scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Spartans, but said the game was “nerve-racking.”
“We’ve never had a game that close before and we’ve never beat Dolores Huerta,” Wertsbaugh said. “It’s super relieving to beat them, honestly.”
The win was the team’s third on the season — a new record for most wins in one campaign. It’s also the first home win in Swallows’ history, as well as the first time the Lady Spartans have won back-to-back games.
SCA defeated John Mall on Jan. 3 to earn another first: Its first Class 2A District 6 victory.
“I’ve never been so excited for something,” Wertsbaugh said. “Our team has grown so much and we have new players. So we’ve been trying to teach them what we know and how to be better and now we feed off each other’s energy.”
Wertsbaugh began playing basketball her freshman year, having played soccer much of her life.
In less than three seasons, she’s become one of Swallows’ best players and first scoring options.
She’s also transferred skills from the soccer pitch to the basketball court. Those skills, along with her improved dribbling and shooting, have made her a better overall player.
“I’ve always had speed because of soccer,” Wertsbaugh said. “And I have good court vision because of having field vision in soccer. So I can just get steals because I know where the opponent is going to be.”
Whereas the girls on the team, like Wertsbaugh, have developed so to has the players’ chemistry.
Wertsbaugh has credited the team’s growth over the course of the past three seasons to a stronger team bond and unity.
“We have team dinners at the school or one of our houses and those give us time to bond with each other,” she said. “I think that’s been our biggest improvement. We’ve grown on each other. When we first started we weren’t as close to each other. Now we’re getting close to each other.”
With three wins under their belt, the Lady Spartans continue their growth.
Wertsbaugh said that five wins on the season was the goal heading into the 2019-2020 campaign.
Now, more than halfway there, Wertsbaugh hopes to reach that goal and more.
She said the team’s success is good for her, her teammates and the school.
“It means so much to all the players and the parents and the families,” Wertsbaugh said. “We’re halfway there to five wins. I hope we can get there.”