ADAMS TWP — With the holiday weekend and spring break taking place immediately after their state championship victory, the Mars girls basketball team had nearly a week to sit back and enjoy their achievement.
However for junior Tai Johnson, whose steal and score with 4.2 seconds left secured Mars' 36-33 victory over Archbishop Wood, that meant the accomplishment didn't feel real until Tuesday morning.
“It hadn't really set in that we won a state championship,” she said. “Coming back to school, it set in ... and now we get to share it with everyone at school.”
Johnson and her teammates paraded through the halls of the high school Tuesday morning, adorned in corsages, their state championship medals and freshly printed sweatshirts marking the occasion. They carried their trophy as the marching band led the way, the halls lined with students, faculty and staff who gathered to offer congratulations and applause.
“Walking in the building, everyone was saying congrats,” said senior Lauren Wasylson. “It's cool to wear your medal and go around and see all the support you have from the school and knowing that you have the Mars community behind you. It's just awesome.”
Despite the victory — the first in school history for the program — the celebration was short lived. For Wasylson and her teammates, spring break was spent in the gym, preparing for the next chapter.
“You're not going to practice after school now, so it's like, 'What do I do with my life now?'” said Wasylson, who will attend Xavier in the fall. “You're practicing on your own, lifting, getting stronger.”
For Johnson, a junior who has verbally committed to Bucknell, and Bella Pelaia, a sophomore who led the team with 14 points in the title game, there are more goals on the horizon.
“It didn't even stop,” said Pelaia, who had AAU practice over the weekend in preparation for the upcoming season.
Johnson agreed, adding she and her teammates are already looking ahead to next season.
“We have a goal that we can set and that we can reach now,” she said. “It's just a matter of working hard to achieve it.”
Though Wasylson will be pursuing new goals of her own, she has faith in her friends and teammates.
“We're all on cloud nine right now, and obviously we don't want it to end,” she said. “But all good things have to come to an end ... and I know they're going to accomplish what they accomplished this year, next year.”