The Muncie Burris Owls went 8-14 in the regular season.
They lost their first eight games of the season.
But last night, that record and streak flew out the window as the Owls defeated Winchester Community in the first round of sectionals.
“Defensively, we executed really well last night,” head coach John Donahue said. “Actually [junior Asher] Donahue and [senior] Connor McKibben were both huge for us last night. [senior Bryce] Karnes was huge. Winchester really does a good job of plowing through the post and those three guys really did a great job of taking that away from them.”
The 61-42 win is the first time the program has come out on top of a sectional game since the 2012-13 season.
Even though the record was not what the second-year head coach wanted to see, he likes where the team is at right now.
“Obviously you want to win games,” he said. “But we took over about halfway through the year last year and we kind of overhauled a lot of different things. We kind of knew that there would be some growing pains this season. Looking at our schedule out of the gate, it was pretty tough. So we just wanted our guys just to stay the course, keep grinding away, keep working and start trying. You always want to start peaking at this stage of the season”
The win was big for the team but was maybe even bigger for the community and the player’s parents.
“I know it's a tough stretch to start the season and you know, parents love to see their kid win,” Donahue said. “That's good for them to see some success. The parents have seen the kids start to put hard work in and now it’s really paying off for them.”
To the players, the win has influenced them to continue practicing.
"We've still got work to do,” McKibben said. “I’ve got a great group of teammates and any of us can step up at any time. If we continue to play team basketball I feel like we can compete with anyone.”
Senior Carter Fisher had a big night as he led the Owls with 21 points. He credits the team's win with the hard work they’ve put in.
“It is an awesome feeling,” Fisher said. “It means a lot to me and the rest of my teammates. We have put in so many hours in the gym and it’s great to see things start to pay off.”
The Owls will now face Wes-Del on Friday in sectional number 40. The game starts at six p.m. and will be held at Monroe Central.
Going into the game, Donahue knows what his team is up against.
“Got to come out and execute,” he said. “We played Wes-Del once already this year. And you know, Coach [John] McGlothin's a great coach, I have the utmost respect for him. He's one of the guys who taught me how to coach. I was with him at Yorktown years and years ago when he was an assistant there and I know he runs a lot of the same stuff that we run. So it's just gonna come down to execution and which team's gonna want more.”
Whatever comes from the Owls' next game, McKibben believes that this game was bigger than just one game.
“I think Muncie has been starved for basketball success in recent years,” he said over text. “Hopefully the win (in addition to a greatly improved Muncie Central Bearcat squad) can give our city a little bit of Hoosier basketball pride.”
Contact Zach Carter with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ZachCarter85.