The End of a Journey

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By Lauren Hauser

Now seniors, Noelle Ossenkop, Sydney Hauser, Bailey Hauser, McKenzie Hartl, Catherine Yeoman, and Kristen Elliott pose during a basketball tournament in 2010.

For most teams moving towards the end of a sports season, seniors reminisce about the last four years playing with their fellow classmates. But for the Mount Vernon girls’ basketball team, it is much more than that.   

This unique group of girls have been playing basketball with each other competitively for the last 10 years. All eight seniors began this sport together and will end as a group in their final season. “It’s the last time all of us seniors will get to play together, and the last time many of us will play basketball competitively, so for me it’s about soaking in every moment I have left to play with these girls,” said Noelle Ossenkop.

Having played together for so long, the group of seniors have an advantage most teams don’t have. “You develop a unique kind of team chemistry. It’s not like the team chemistry you get playing with someone for a couple years, but it’s the chemistry where you almost know what the other person is going to do,” said Kristen Elliott. This chemistry has grown over the years, and has given them a unique experience compared to other teams whose players may not be as close.

The group of seniors hold their bracket after winning a basketball tournament at North Scott in eighth grade. Photo by Missy Hauser.

The seniors began playing basketball together on a team when they were in third grade. They played games and tournaments and spent an abundant amount of time playing together on a travel team until eighth grade. Unlike most teams, all eight girls continued to play with one another for all of high school. “The advantage to playing with the same girls is seeing growth,” said Katheryn Opperman, “It’s fun to think of where we started and where we are now.”

Over the years, their success can be attributed to their close friendships that have grown stronger every day. “We all get along so well, and are friends on and off the court. We can push each other in practice and know how to help each other out,” said Catherine Yeoman.

The seniors and other teammates gather together before their first game of the season against Center Point-Urbana on Nov. 21. Photo by Steve Brand.

Their strong relationships with each other help them be successful on the court and make for a very emotional and unique final season. “What is special about this group is that we’ve been best friends for so long. Basketball has tied us together and has given us all memories that none of us will ever forget,” said Kyli Orr.

With the final season coming to an end, the seniors hold many goals for the end to their long journey. “Everyone hopes for a state championship,” said Sydney Hauser, “but no matter the outcome I hope we all have a fun, exciting, and memorable final season.”

The Mustangs have three regular season games remaining. Their first round game is against West Delaware on Sat. Feb. 10, at Mount Vernon High School.