The Haines girls basketball team finished with an 0-2 record at last weekend's Region V Tournament and wound up 4-16 for the season.
But for the Glacier Bears, just completing the season was a victory in itself.
Depleted by injuries and eligibility issues, the team coach Ray Chapin fielded this season quickly dwindled to six - one above the minimum and just half of what most teams brought to the region tourney in Sitka.
Seniors Lilly Ward and Carrie Wilkins, juniors Kim Ferrin, Kelly Hansen and Ivanca Jones, and freshman Brianna Phillips took the court for Haines from the start. Junior Drew Fossman - out with an injury - served as team manager.
The players' high-school court experience ranged from Jones, a three-year starter, to none at all.
"We talked early in the season about how we might not be able to judge our success by wins and losses, but by effort and things we control," Chapin said Friday after his team's last game at the tournament.
Playing with six - and at one point, on a trip to Metlakatla, with only five - Haines stuck together as a team.
"You can't say enough about their dedication," Chapin said.
And while it's one thing to play games with six, it's even more difficult to practice and scrimmage when you barely have enough players for one team. So Chapin assembled a patchwork in-town opponent.
"This year, we've had a combination of high school boys, junior high boys, junior high girls, community members and a fourth-grade boy who combined to make a team for us to play," he said.
Chapin said the team also benefited from the goodwill of other Southeast schools.
"The support we've gotten from other teams in the region has been great," he said. "That's gone a long ways to keep the spirit of the team up."
By completing the season, Chapin said his players accomplished something greater than a win on the court.
"They have never quit," he said. "That's one thing they can carry with them for the rest of their lives."
The Juneau Empire sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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