Bucs won’t be wowed by bright lights this year

Shar'Rae Davis has played in a lot of big basketball games over her career, but she admitted to being wide-eyed and wobbly-kneed as she ran out onto the Breslin Center court for last year's state semifinals.
Matt DeYoung
Mar 16, 2012

“I think we were a little overwhelmed last year,” Davis said following the Bucs’ regional championship game win over Grand Rapids Northview. “We came in and there were news cameras on the sidelines. Now we know what it’s like. We just have to go out and play our game.

“Last year, we were on Cloud 9,” Davis added. “This year, we’re more determined. We got a taste of it. Now we want it.”

Any time a team makes it to a new level, there’s a learning curve. Coaches do all they can to get their team ready, and athletes swear it won’t affect them.
But it always does.

Just ask Buccaneers’ wrestling coach James Richardson, whose team made it to the state meet for the first time earlier this month.

“Our kids were a little overwhelmed and way too conservative,” Richardson said following the Buccaneers’ loss to Brighton.

“There was a lot of uncertainty,” Richardson added. “The kids were completely out of their normal routine. That’s what this stage does to you. Hopefully it’s a learning experience.”

The Buccaneers’ girls certainly learned a a lot during their tournament run las tyear. After 20 regular-season games and a half-dozen state tournament games played at either 6 or 7:30 p.m., today’s Class A semifinal between Grand Haven and Inkster tips off at 1 p.m.

Bucs’ coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer admits that changing up the routine isn’t easy.

“Any time we have something different, like conferences, the day off school, I don’t like it,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “We’re going to get up, go to Russ’ for breakfast, make sure everybody’s up and eating healthy, then we’ll come back to school and the school does a big send-off for us.

“I usually like to get there and watch a game, get in the basketball mood, then go in at halftime, but we’re the first game,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer sadder. “We’ve been playing at 6 p.m. all year, so we’ve just been talking about eating healthy, staying hydrated, taking care of themselves.”

Having gone through the same scenario a year ago is a huge boost for the Bucs.

“We’re an experienced tournament team,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “These kids were there last year, so they know it’s going to be a really fun experience. It’s not like we’re in unfamiliar territory.”

Inkster also has plenty of tournament experience, having won the state championship a year ago.

Still, the Buccaneers say that losing such a heartbreaker last year — they came up one point short against Detroit Renaissance in the state semifinals — has them even more motivated to win it all this year.

“We feel like we have some unfinished business,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said.

“This year, we feel we’re better,” Davis added. “We’ve got the experience and we want to go out there and take care of business.”

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