COPENHAGEN — Brooke Smykla had already begun using her basketball bag for school and Allison Best debated getting a second job — the Copenhagen girls basketball players were preparing for a year without the sport.
So, when Smykla, Best and fellow senior Meaghen Fitzpatrick stood on the court with flowers in hand and parents by their side, the moment felt truly special. Mostly because it was a moment that was far from guaranteed.
After the ceremony, the Golden Knights did what they do best, played elite basketball. The end result was an 81-9 victory over South Lewis — the first game of the season for both teams.
“I was extremely grateful that I was able to have a senior night for basketball, have a season, I didn’t think this was going to happen,” Best said. “I’m glad to have it, I’m a little dismayed that we can’t get out of the Frontier League because I would have liked another shot at that sectional title.”
Every year, coach Natalie Scott announces her seniors on senior night, giving them their moment of grand recognition. But even to her, Thursday’s event was special.
“I truly didn’t think we were going to,” Scott said. “Not in this way anyway, I would have definitely done something, but I didn’t think we were going to get this. Like I said, I’m just thrilled that Lewis County and our schools allowed this to happen, because it means so much to them. And normalcy, seems so good right now.”
On the court, the Golden Knights didn’t look like a team a year removed from competition. Part of that is team chemistry, the senior core of Smykla, Best and Fitzpatrick has been together for years and has helped lead Copenhagen to multiple Section 3 Class D title games.
“There is a lot of chemistry on this team,” Smykla said. “It’s gonna stink when we have to leave, but there is going to be chemistry coming up to, because we’ve all been together.”
There was also an added level of aggressiveness. Copenhagen’s offensive success typically derives from well executed plays and passes that break down an opposing defense. But in 2021, where the season only lasts eight games, the Golden Knights, especially the seniors, aren’t leaving anything on the table. They’re taking their shots.
Smykla was the best embodiment of that mentality Thursday. She finished with 32 points, the result of 10 two-pointers and four 3-pointers.
Four other Golden Knights finished with 10 or more points.
“I think this year we were more aggressive, I guess you can say, we want to shoot more,” Fitzpatrick, who finished with four points, said. “We kind of worked on that in practice with all of our drills.”
Copenhagen played aggressive and they played fast, often leaving South Lewis a step behind. Marlaina Warcup led the Falcons in scoring with four points, while Brooke Kenyon finished with three points and Olivia Millard had two.
While the Golden Knights are playing a little bit more freely on the court, Scott is coaching a little bit more freely on the sideline. She understands that the season is short and will not culminate in any sort of playoffs.
Giving the kids and opportunity to play and have fun is the top priority.
“I’m going to coach for them, I’m going to coach for what they want to do, what they want to experience,” Scott said. “I’m not going to be as hard on them, we’re not going to run like we typically would and get in shape like we typically would. We’re going to do skills and drills, but we’re also going to have fun in practice, and we’re going to try to have fun in the games.”
For Scott, Thursday’s game was as normal as life has felt since last February. Even the plain old sound of the official’s whistle put a smile on her face.
HARRISVILLE 48, BEAVER RIVER 27
Torie Moore tallied 24 points as the Pirates earned a season-opening, nonleague win over the Beavers in Beaver Falls.
Evelyn Winters chipped in 14 points for Harrisville (1-0).
Brenna Mast paced Beaver River (0-1) with 10 points.
BEAVER RIVER 57, LOWVILLE 37
The Beavers swept all three relay meets en route to a Frontier League “B” Division win over the Red Raiders in a virtual meet Wednesday.
Isaac Boliver also added victories in the 100-yard butterfly and 200 individual medley for the Beaver River (1-1).
Sean Miller took the 100 freestyle and Colin Kempney won the 200 freestyle for Lowville (0-2).