Rec Sports Spotlight: 'Old ladies' win title in second-best sport
By By Mike Nortrup Times Correspondent
Apr 13, 2014 | 3:00 AM
Buffalo Wild Wings basketball coach Amy Wolff and her teammates like to celebrate at the Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar in Westminster after their Sunday afternoon games. Well, a few Sunday afternoons ago, they really had themselves a party.
Their team had just won the Carroll County Women's Basketball League championship for the first time in its 16-year history.
In the March 23 final, they topped the Tammy Webster-coached Team No. 3, 57-42, at East Middle School.
Before winning the Women's League title, they were better known for softball prowess than for basketball. Wolff and many of her basketball mates are on a team that has won two softball World Championships in the past six years.
Wolff explained that basketball was something to do for exercise and fun over the winter as the players waited for the weather to break. While she says they are athletes and wanted to win, the world never ended when they didn't.
"We are just a bunch of old ladies running around and having fun," she says of her players. Most are in their mid-30s with the oldest being 45.
Her Wild Wings team had changed a lot over the years. It was mostly Liberty High School grads when it started in 1998. However Wolff explained that almost all of those players are gone now, and the new ones come from all over.
Despite the fact that hers is an older team and despite its changing cast, it has always done reasonably well. And even though she believes the ten-team Women's League is continually getting bigger and better, Wolff's squad usually finished in the top four and qualified for the postseason tournament each year. They'd just never won it.
This year's roster was the same as last year's except for one new player, point guard Dee Brown. Brown would become an integral part of her squad's success.
She says her team never practices. It simply steps out on the court and plays when the season begins. Wolff says it can usually get by without practice because, "we've known each other so long that we play well together."
This year though, it might have done better to practice. The Wings lost their opening game.
But that defeat would be their first and final loss of the year.
The squad is well-balanced. First of all, it's big. Five of the players are 5-foot-10 or over, and that means it was strong on the boards.
Mandy Holman, Kristin Ostlie and Wolff were key rebounders, but they also got help from some of the guards.
One such guard was Jennifer Grossman, "a fiery little girl who can rebound" as Wolff described her. Grossman was also quick and good on defense. She and guard Amanda DeFilippo were leaders on the fast break.
After their opening loss, the Wild Wings won the rest of their regular season games to finish 8-1. They tied for first with Webster's Team 3.
Wolff says she and her players were confident coming into the tournament. They had been short-handed when they lost their opening game and were a lot better prepared for the postseason.However they were missing players there too. Holman was out with a knee injury. And Wolff missed the championship game because she was in Florida.
Her team had a tough semifinal game. It was tied, 21-all with Kelsey LeCompte's Team 1 at halftime. But the Wings took over in the second half to win, 53-43.Rexrode paced the winners with 17 points, and Courtney Russell had a game-high 24 for LeCompte.
The Webster team had played with only five or six players in most games during the year. Yet it had managed to prevail. However in the championship game, the short roster caught up with it.
The Wings pulled to a 32-30 halftime lead and went on to win by 15. Sullivan and Brown had 19 and 18 points, respectively, for the winners. Steph Tolbert had 11 for Webster's squad.
Meanwhile, basketball was receding in the rear-view mirror. Wolff looked back, though, saying, "I'm surprised at winning. We play basketball just to get exercise, but this was an additional bonus because we won the whole thing."