The 2016-17 basketball season will be the last chance for seven seniors on the Seton Keough High basketball team to make history on the court.
That was expected.
It will also be the final opportunity at the school for six underclassmen and first-year varsity basketball coach Stephanie Gilmore to join them in leaving their mark.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore announced in late October plans to close Seton Keough after the school year because of declining enrollment and the need to upgrade facilities.
Senior guard Yasmin Lewis (5-feet, 9 inches) knows how she wants the last season to end.
"We really want to win a championship, to show the last snap of Keough, so that everybody will remember our school, our legacy," Lewis said.
The final season begins, appropriately enough, on Dec. 1 at home against Elizabeth Seton High at 6 p.m.
Gilmore is a graduate of Elizabeth Seton and her sister, Tiphanie Edwards, is the dean of academics there.
"Everybody is talking about who is buying dinner if who wins, so it's going to be a good game," said Gilmore, who played basketball on two Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship teams at Elizabeth Seton.
After high school, she played at Old Dominion University from 1989-93 and they won three conference tournament championships.
She had tryouts with the WNBA's Indiana Fever, Washington Mystics and Charlotte Sting and could have tried to play professionally.
"I got a couple looks as far as going overseas, but I was working here and making more money," Gilmore said.
She came to Seton Keough last year as the Director of Technology.
Gilmore also joined the basketball program as an assistant junior varsity coach.
When varsity coach Tom Gizzi left after a 16-8 season last year to become head coach at Notre Dame of Maryland University, Gilmore was hired as the varsity coach.
"She helped out with JV last year and did a great job," Seton Keough athletic director Josiah LaTonya said. "The girls really respond to her and she has valuable experience as far as somebody who grew up playing in the D.C. area."
Lewis played under Jody Powell in the 2014-15 season, but Powell's family moved after the season, so Lewis is now playing for her third varsity coach in three years.
"Coach Gilmore has actually been with us for a year, so it really wasn't that hard of a transition," Lewis said. "We all knew her and we all were familiar with her, so it was an easy transition."
Gilmore knows what it takes to get to a higher level.
"What I tell them is, 'If you put in the work, everything will fall in place,'" she said. "That's the difference between your Division I, Division II and Division III players."
Four of this year's seniors are committed to play in college.
Lewis and Jaya Green (5-10, guard/forward) will play at Division II Clarion University in Pennsylvania, Kaila Jennings (5-7, guard) will play for Division II West Virginia State and Kayla Bacon (5-10, guard/forward) will play for Division I Drexel University.
Bacon, Lewis, Jennings and seniors Sydney Mitchell (5-11, guard/forward) and Brittani Smith (5-10, guard/forward) started in the Gators' season-opening scrimmage on Nov. 17 against Mount Carmel High.
The scrimmage gave Gilmore a chance to evaluate her entire roster, but the coach didn't hesitate taking five girls immediately off the court after they failed to run the proper inbounds play, so she could explain to them what happened.
"She was a player so she knows how to motivate us during the games," Lewis said.
She's also not afraid to cheer up a player up when they come off the court unhappy.
That warmth has spilled over to her team.
"I like the fact that they work hard together and they cheer each other on and I've seen them really bond," Gilmore said.
That cohesiveness was evident when the team attended a basketball camp Aug 11-13 at Old Dominion University.
"It was a great experience for the girls and they got an opportunity to really bond and play really well," she said.
For the Gators to continue to play well this season, they will need to keep up pressure defense and create easier scoring opportunities.
"Our strength is running the floor, getting open shots and finding our teammates," Lewis said. "We know each other very well, so we know each other's strengths and weaknesses very well."
One of those strengths is versatility.
"We have several girls that can play two or three positions which is a great advantage," Gilmore said.
The Gators varsity roster also includes senior Camryn Shaw (5-11, forward/center), juniors Bailie Grace (5-1, guard), Briea Dorsey (5-5, forward) and Jasmine Franklin (5-11, guard/forward) and sophomores Tian Addision (5-5, guard), Pryncess Lawson (6-0, forward/center) and Morgan Pennick (5-3, guard).
Lawson was the center and Pennick was the point guard on the junior varsity last year and Gilmore sees them making an impact on varsity.
"We just have to continue to bond and work together," Gilmore said. "They are getting used to me in terms of learning the plays and learning expectations."
Those expectations are high for Lewis.
"My team is going to do great things this year," she said. "I feel like we are more mature than last year."