The reminder was there at most Siegel boys basketball practices during the offseason.
The score of last year’s District 7-AAA tournament loss to La Vergne was lit on the scoreboard, a constant reminder of the first-round elimination game, the second year in a row the Stars had been ousted short of the region.
“That was big (motivation),” Siegel coach Dyron Birdwell said. “We’ve talked about how we don’t want to end the season like that again. We want a chance to play in March … to play in postseason games in February.”
Siegel has a nice blend of youth, experience and, most important, talent should help it accomplish those goals.
But in a district that sent two teams (Riverdale and Blackman) to the state and two others (La Vergne and Oakland) to the region semifinals last year, the Stars know motivation isn’t all the team needs.
“(The district tournament loss to La Vergne) was the worst game I played last year,” said Siegel senior forward Tyler Erdman, who scored 14 points in a 55-47 win over Gallatin jon Monday. “I can’t let that happen again. We can’t go out like that again.”
Siegel has seen plenty of success over the past decade.
The Stars were district champs as recently as 2015, a string of multiple league titles during an eight-year stretch.
The Siegel senior class, however, hasn’t enjoyed the taste of a region game since its freshman season. Underclassmen have yet to experience it.
Things have started right for Siegel this season. The Stars are off to a 7-4 start with big wins over White County and Independence and competitive losses to defending Class AAA state tournament foes Mt. Juliet and Blackman.
“We had to work on consistency,” said Erdman, one of the team’s leading returning scorers from last year’s 16-12 team. “Last year we beat two teams (Mt. Juliet andRiverdale) that went to the state and lost to Blackman by just one. We can reach the state level, but we have to come out every night.”
After playing in a pair of holiday tournaments, Siegel will delve back into a crucial district stretch in January.
“We have a chance to be pretty good, but we have to compete for four quarters,” Birdwell said. “Right now, we’re struggling with that. But, we have a good mix of sophomores and seniors.”
One of those sophomores is point guard Zion Swader, who has benefited from being thrust into a major role as a freshman.
“Last year helped me a lot, playing under (former first-team all-area guard) James Franklin Jr.,” Swader said. “He was a very good mentor. I’ve always played up, since I was young.”
• Swader and Matthew Schneider both scored 10 points in Monday’s win. The Siegel girls dropped a 64-53 decision to the Lady Green Wave, despite 19 points and four 3-pointers from Alexis Nelson and 15 points from Taylor Patterson.
Reach Cecil Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Cecil_Joyce.