Lady Spartans basketball team and cheerleaders demand success

The screech of sneakers on the court sails through the air as the girls basketball team races against the buzzer. After daily practices and countless late nights, seemingly endless hours of conditioning and training are paying off as the Lady Spartans basketball team adds another victory to their win streak. Right by their side, the basketball cheer team dances, stomps and shouts with enough energy to tame the opposing team into submission. Lady Spartans are dominating the court.

As of Jan. 15, the girls basketball team has yet to lose a game in the 2021-2022 season. Due to strong communication, consistent practices and carefully nurtured skill, the Lady Spartans’ win streak does not appear to be ending anytime soon. However, despite their flawless record, players still notice the typical trend of lesser attendance for girls’ games when compared to the boys.

“Outside of school, boys definitely get more recognition than girls,” shooting guard Demi Gentry (11) said. “People come to more of the boys’ games, and it usually starts getting packed like half time [of] our game, so they can prepare for the boys.”

Even though the team is not accustomed to a large crowd, they are not daunted by the presence of a high energy audience. At a game against East High School on Jan. 10, point guard Stephen Curry and the entire Golden State Warriors team appeared for the retirement of James Wiseman’s jersey, prompting a massive crowd that enabled the Lady Spartans to perform in front of hundreds of spectators. 

“I like that environment,” Gentry said. “A whole bunch of people coming and cheering makes you hyper and makes you not get tired. It makes me play better.”

Luckily for the basketball team, no matter the audience size, they will always have passionate, skilled cheerleaders that bring an unmatched life force to the sidelines. Contrary to the typical football cheer style, basketball cheer incorporates more stomping, carefully enunciated shouting and cheers directed at the other team. 

“We have a lot more soul; we’re louder, sassier and stuff like that,” Amyah Wright (11) said. “Our cheers are different. We get into people’s faces and feelings. It’s more intense.” 

They have to bring that energy to hype up a smaller audience than football would have. Some cheerleaders see the separation in style from football cheer results in inequality regarding the recognition and funding of the teams. 

“I think football cheerleaders get way more attention than basketball cheerleaders just because that’s how it always has been,” Wright said. “There was a time when both teams were one, but they decided to separate. Like football, they get most of the funding and stuff.” 

Not unlike the difference in perception between basketball and football cheer, the girls basketball team notes many misconceptions surrounding girls versus boys basketball. Despite the fact there are minimal rule differences between the two, assumptions that girls basketball is somehow easier or teams are not as skilled continue to run rampant.

 “[People] think all the girls try to be like boys, like it’s a boys sport or something like that—,or the girls teams are not that good—,and we’re just sorry, but it’s not true,” shooting guard Haeili Bradshaw (11) said. “We have really good team chemistry. We know each other, and we know how we play.” 

With daily practices, members of the basketball team must carefully manage their time in order to perform well as both athletes and students. Similarly, the basketball cheer team must also meticulously manage school assignments around exhausting 5-hour practices.

“It really depends what teacher you have because some teachers will work with you,” Gentry said. “Some teachers will pile you up, [but] most of them are understanding, and they let you turn [assignments] in when you have time.”

In spite of the difficult schedules and profuse misconceptions, both teams have created a seemingly unbreakable bond that has led them to undeniable success. While acknowledging the challenges in communication and time management, the Lady Spartans emphasize their vigorous diligence that continues to propel a dynamic season.

“One thing that makes us strong is our work ethic,” Wright said. “We work harder than anybody else, and like I said, we have practices from [3 p.m to 8 p.m.], so that’s a lot of time together. With us being girls, that can be kinda hard ‘cause we’re gonna want to fight, but we’re like sisters, and at this point, we’re like family. We work hard every day of the week.”