Investment without evidence is often needed when trying to turn around a struggling program.
That’s why this year’s Freedom High School girls basketball team will hold a special place in the heart of coach Dean Reiman. The Patriots made a commitment to winning, even without a guarantee that success would come.
That dedication is why Freedom was playing on Thursday night in the District 11 Class 6A quarterfinals.
The Patriots (14-10) snapped two long postseason droughts this winter, appearing in the district tournament for the first time since 2010 and the league bracket for the first time since 2006.
Their District 11 run, and season, however, came to an end at the hands of second-seeded Parkland, 65-54, at Whitehall High School.
“They just talked in the locker room about how this is just establishing a foundation,” Reiman said after the quarterfinal defeat. “I’m so proud of this group and the seniors. This group will always be special to me because they did it with blind faith. They didn’t know what winning looked like.”
Seniors Meckenzie Herman, Kaitlyn Swint, Giselle Sanchez and Jaiden Coyne hadn’t seen an above-.500 record prior to this winter.
“When you tell them you need to work harder, you need to lift more weights, you need to run more — when you’re a winning program, you know what’s at the end of that,” said Reiman, who wrapped up his second season at Freedom. “When you’re trying to become a winning program, it’s blind faith. I give these kids a lot of credit because they bought in and they worked their tails off to become a winning program.”
Freedom’s dedication to improvement got the Patriots to the postseason, but a rough third quarter resulted in an exit at the hands of Parkland. The No. 7 seed scored two points over the opening 5:50 of the second half, allowing the Trojans to pull out to a 43-30 advantage.
Parkland (18-6) made 23 foul shots on 30 attempts after intermission.
“Obviously, we fouled a little bit more than we would have liked to, put them on the line and they made a lot of free throws in the second half,” Reiman said. “To start the third quarter, we couldn’t make a basket. As we couldn’t make baskets, we were fouling on the other end. That kind of set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Junior forward Hailey Silfies, Freedom’s All-Eastern Pennsylvania Conference selection, had a team-high 15 points on Thursday.
Reiman hopes this season’s progress sets the table for bigger accomplishments down the road.
“Now, the torch will be carried by the juniors and sophomores,” he said. “We’ll see what Freedom basketball looks like in the future.”
Kyle Craig may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @KyleCraigSports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.
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