One of the most difficult tasks to master when it comes to being a good team is learning how to lose. Or should I say, learning how to learn from a loss.
The Lycoming men's team ripped off 14 consecutive victories to open last year's season. This year, the Warriors only got to their second game before suffering the season's first defeat.
In the year's first loss, an 85-82 heartbreaker to Salisbury in the championship game of Lycoming's annual tip-off tournament, Lycoming might have gained much more than it lost.
"That game taught us we need to execute down the stretch, and that's what we did not do," junior Kevin Anthony said. "There were a lot of late turnovers and we didn't execute. It helped us out in the Wilkes game and the Alvernia game. It showed us we needed to learn how to close games out, and that will help us down the road."
"It was a good experience (loss) for us," senior captain Jerald Williams said. "It's not good to lose, but that was a good loss because when we came back in the Wilkes game we knew what it took to win the game."
The Wilkes game was the perfect example of how to learn from a defeat. And nobody appeared to learn more than Williams, who hit 7 of 8 free throws, grabbed two rebounds and added three steals. Williams also had six assists.
Despite the stellar stat line, Williams' most crucial points came in the final seconds of regulation when he broke through Wilkes' defense for a game-tying layup to force overtime. It was Williams' lone basket from the field, but it was Lycoming's biggest of the night.
"I felt as a leader and senior I had to step up and lead my guys so they wouldn't make the same mistakes twice," Williams said.
Any mistakes made through regulation were not committed for a second time, and Williams made sure of that as he had a hand in Lycoming's first ten overtime points. Williams scored the first two baskets of overtime. He then assisted on a Patrick Dougher trey along with two Kevin Anthony layups.
"We have a good chemistry on the court," Williams said of teammates Kevin Anthony and Anthony Martin. "With all three of us starting we're all clicking on the same page. It's really hard to stop all three of us when we're going."
Ask Alvernia about what happens when the three players get going. In last Saturday's Commonwealth showdown, Williams added six assists in the first 10 minutes. Anthony and Martin combined to post the first 13 points for the Warriors.
Williams finished the day with 13 assists while Martin led all scorers with 24 points and Anthony ended with 12 points.
The three players have shown the ability to completely take control of games. But with Williams dishing out nearly 12 assists per contest, it doesn't need to be just those three.
Lycoming has four players averaging double digits in points per contest with Anthony leading the way at 15.8. Chris Foreman (12.5), Patrick Dougher (11.3) and Martin (10.3) round out the rest.
"We've been playing pretty well together," Anthony said. "We all have the same style of play. We're all quick and athletic and have similar mindsets. It's worked out well for us."
Being able to operate on the same page paid off in Saturday's Commonwealth Conference game against Hood. Martin scored the last four points for Lycoming, while Anthony led all scorers and Williams finished with a game-high 11 assists.
The result was a late basket by Martin to undo a 76-all tie to give the Warriors a four game winning streak along with a 2-0 start to conference play.