Despite all the adversity, the team ended the season with 17 wins and five losses.
Coach Katie Craft said one thing remained consistent about the five-man junior varsity team — they just kept winning.
The young team began the season with eight players including one junior, two sophomores and five freshmen. The team tipped off with four wins of their first six games and the season was off on a positive note.
But injuries began to take a toll.
“As the season progressed, both the varsity and JV teams lost players to injuries and to personal issues and the shuffling of players began,” Kraft said.
The JV point guard, Ally Coscetti, along with post Alyssa Mancilla were moved to the varsity team after two district games. Both freshmen were impact players for the junior varsity team, and the change produced a challenge for the remaining five players.
“I sat down with the five girls and told them we could continue to win, but we would have to be prepared to work very hard,” Craft said. “The girls took this conversation straight to heart and were determined to overcome any setback that came their way.”
The school and community soon dubbed the girls, “the Fab 5.”
The girls didn’t take long to prove they were worthy of their name. The coach explained how each player brought a special talent to the team.
Sophomore McKayla Ramos stepped into the point guard position and led the team with poise, while her 3-point shooting came to be something the rest of the team relied on for victory, Craft added.
Roslyne Tyler, the other sophomore, brought incredible post play along with her very consistent free-throw shooting that led to her being unstoppable at times, said the coach.
Freshman Felicia Wills was a defensive machine, using her speed to steal the ball on a regular basis and rack up points on lay-ups.
Raeven Barraza and Katie Snyder, the two freshmen, made huge contributions to this team as well. Katie’s rebounds and tenacious drives to the basket seemed to always be timed perfectly. Raeven stepped up and made some big shots that provided a spark when the team needed them the most, Craft said.
The five girls played 12 games with no substitutes, which means the JV Lady Cats were on the court for 28 minutes of buzzer-to-buzzer play. The only chance for a water break came during a timeout or halftime.
“They had to dig deep, but there was obvious determination to win every single time they stepped onto the court,” Craft said.
The “Fab 5” racked up big wins against their first six district opponents and faced Skidmore in the last game of the first round.
Both teams were undefeated in district at that point, which produced a district showdown.
“The biggest challenge this team ever faced was trying to keep all five players in the game without losing anyone to fouls,” Kraft said.
During the first showdown with Skidmore, the team ended up playing with four players for half of the fourth quarter. Still, the Lady Cats managed to take the game into overtime, with pure determination.
However, the fatigue from playing with only four players down the stretch caught up to the team, and they lost the game in a close 28-24 match.
As the second half of district play rolled around, the “Fab 5” seemed more determined than ever to prove that these five girls can get the job done.
With a handful of faithful fans in stands every game, the Lady Cats again rolled through four district opponents without a loss. As they faced Odem in the second-to-last game of the season, foul trouble once again caught up to the team.
Forced to play almost two quarters with four players, the odds were too great to overcome. This set up a final showdown between the Lady Cats of Refugio and those of Skidmore.
The two teams battled for 28 minutes, keeping the margin of scoring within 10 points throughout the game.
In the end, the Refugio “Fab 5” won the contest 41-32, allowing the team to finish on a positive note.
“This group of girls played their hearts out on the court this season,” Craft said. “I am so proud of their effort, their determination, and their willingness to stick it out even when the odds were stacked against them.”