While the shutdown of sports earlier this spring was bad news for most athletes, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world for the seniors of Port Charlotte High girls basketball.
With their season already over, the Lady Pirates used their newfound free time — and new accessibility to college recruiters — to hone in on where they wanted to play at the next level.
Tuesday morning in the Port Charlotte High media center, five of those recently graduated players — Ameijha Jones (Warner University), Sharina Hudson (Culver-Stockton College), Kieli Maybell (Minnesota Tech Community College), Elizabeth Joseph (Trinity Baptist College) and Alisha Huggins (Trinity College) — announced their commitments to continue playing in college.
In two seasons as head coach of the girls basketball team, Mike Progl has now sent seven of nine seniors to play collegiate basketball.
“I try very hard if they have the desire to play at the next level,” Progl said. “I resort to all of my resources to try and make that happen. It’s sending a lot of coaches a lot of stuff. Game film, highlights, answering any questions they have.
“The issue isn’t so much if they’ll get an opportunity to play, it’s more so are you willing to go where the opportunity is?”
It may be unusual for such a large class of seniors to all get recruited to play beyond high school, but it wasn’t anything unexpected for the Pirates after watching each other work for several years.
“I love it, I’m proud of everyone,” Hudson said. “We all have the drive for it and we worked for it in practice every day.”
Hudson, a point guard, led the Pirates with 12.8 points, 3.4 assists and 4.4 steals per game. Maybell, also a guard, contributed 7.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Jones, a forward, chipped in with 5.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. Huggins, a center, averaged 3.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Joseph, a wing player, averaged 1.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
After finishing their high school careers with a 15-13 record and a loss in the district final, it’s not the wins or losses that this senior class will think of when looking back at their time as Pirates.
Hudson said “the family bonding” is what she’ll miss the most, while Jones recalled “driving go-carts “as her favorite memory, while Maybell said it was “bumping heads in practice,” and for Jones it was “the bus rides” and finally Huggins will fondly recall “the Chick-Fil-A runs.”
While there’s plenty for these seniors to look back on, there’s also much to look forward to, as well.
“I got to play basketball in college,” Progl said. “It was only for a year, but I got to play and it opened up a lot of doors for me. I got to see people and places I probably would have never seen.
“I want them to have that opportunity, too.”