It has been 368 days.
368 days since the Lady Wildcats tasted victory and since the 2015-16 season, wins have been scarce. Before that, it had been 382 days.
“We’ve talked about it often,” El Dorado head coach Jordan Crawford said. “We’ve continued to work hard and finally got to see it pay off.”
That doesn’t mean this team is bad. There have been plenty of close games where a 50-50 ball could have changed the win total for this team. Heading into Friday’s game against Augusta, they may have been the best winless team in the entire state of Kansas.
“I put that game on myself to do the best,” senior Mallory Parsons said. “There were things in other games I didn’t do my best and tried to do my best and lead by example.”
You can mark them off that list as El Dorado beat county rival August 40-33 on Friday afternoon to advance to the fifth place game in their own Lady Cat Classic.
“The girls understand some of our wins may be at practices, team dinners, going on team camps that’s when we win,” Crawford said. They’ve become a family.”
This win was due.
“For my teammates and myself, to finally be rewarded with that it means a lot,” Mallory Parsons said.
You saw it last week as they took sixth-ranked Andale to overtime. Then, they were within striking distance against 5A’s fifth-ranked Maize South until free throws separated them in late in the game. A 16-point game was a two-possession game for 28 of the 32 minutes. Had the Lady Wildcats made their free throws, that game could have been different.
“Things are coming together even if the scoreboard doesn’t show it,” Parsons said. “At the end of the day, it’s more than just a game. It’s about the experience and battling through adversity. That’s I’ll take away from it.”
Coach Jordan Crawford has kept his spirits up despite the losing streak that ended at 19 games.
“First and foremost I am an educator,” Crawford said. “I’ll forever be grateful to El Dorado for giving me my first coaching job.”
Crawford came to El Dorado straight from college where he played at McPherson and helping the Bulldogs reach the NAIA Elite 8. In his previous five seasons, the Lady Cats he is 12-84.
“It’s been a slow start after six years now,” Crawford said. “When those winning days start coming, we’re going to embrace it.
With only two seniors, there are a lot of key pieces in place for a successful Lady Wildcat season. Unlike their 4A county counterparts, volleyball players choose to play club volleyball over playing for their school basketball team, leaving the team without any real size. Against teams like Circle and Maize South, it puts them at an immediate disadvantage.
That doesn’t mean they quit.
“I don’t know if I’ve coached a team that’s closer than this bunch,” Crawford said.
We’ve seen it numerous times with teams that have size. They fight and fight. Mallory Parsons dives on the ground for loose balls. Kenzee Eaton tosses up threes and they fight as a team.
The losses are going to come. While there is massive improvement since their 75-29 loss to Cheney back in early December, there are going to be some losses. Everyone loses every now and then.
“To me in those situations, if you give up then you have no chance,” Parsons said. “If you give up now, are you going to give up later in life?”
What you can count on is this team not quitting. It doesn’t matter the record, nor the score. They will fight until the very end.
“Tough times don’t last,” Crawford said. “Tough people do.”