Oliver Ames girls' basketball coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook remains cautiously optimistic.
With a 12-0 record - including a dominant 75-27 win over Canton Tuesday - it's hard not to get a little excited, or even a little ahead of one's self.
But, for the OA coach, last year is still a vivid memory.
The fourth seeded, 18-2 Tigers fell to 13th seeded Fontbonne Academy in the first round of last year's Div. 2 State Tournament.
"I’m just cautious because I remember last year," Clement-Holbrook said. "That still really stings."
While she is cautious, she is pleased - and she sees her team beginning to peak at the right time. Tuesday's blow-out win was significant not because of the lopsided scoreboard, but because of the way her team played together.
Oliver Ames had nine players score. While only two players scored in double digits, OA still put 75 points on the board.
"The one thing I was really happy about is the way they were so unselfish distributing the ball," Clement-Holbrook said. "That to me was the high note. I thought they made some really good decisions. We had a number of 2-on-1 and 3-on-2's and they pushed the pace, which was good."
OA was led by Caitlyn Abela, who finished with 23 points despite sitting for most of the fourth quarter.
Michaela Lievi added 17 points for the Tigers. Kate Holleran and Asia Mitchell added 8 and Emma Williams added 6.
"They’re not one dimensional which is a huge element for us," Clement-Holbrook said. "The improvement of Kate [Holleran] and [Lievi]. And, Kelsey [Bliss]’s contributions - she’s the epitome of the sixth player. She comes in and plays good defense and makes good decisions with the ball. That to me is a huge leap of faith."
The Tigers soundly won Tuesday's game while dealing with the emotional hurdle of losing a classmate.
Earlier that day, the team traveled to the wake of Devin Ness, an OA senior and captain of the wrestling team who died suddenly of a brain aneurysm last week.
"It’s been a tough day," Clement-Holbrook said. "We all went over to the wake so it’s just been an emotional ride for us."
With Tuesday in the rearview mirror, Oliver Ames will continue to get stronger as the season winds down.
Sophomore forward Meghan Hurley is expected to come back from injury, as is senior forward Allie Brennan, who has been out for the entire season. Brennan was in uniform for Tuesday's game and participated in warm-ups.
"Hopefully the future's looking brighter," Clement-Holbrook said.