Coming off a 4-17 record and fielding an extremely young team, veteran Seaman girls basketball coach Steve Alexander didn’t know what to expect when practice started last November.
And the Vikings’ 0-3 start, including double-digit losses to Leavenworth and Topeka High, didn’t ease Alexander’s uncertainty.
But Seaman responded with a six-game winning streak and won eight of its next nine on the way to a 14-8 record, resulting in Alexander, who completed his 24th season as the Vikings’ coach, earning recognition as the city girls coach of the year.
Seaman’s success, which included a trip to a Class 5A sub-state final, came despite the fact that two seniors, Lacey Dell and Sydney McNorton, missed the entire season with injuries, leaving the Vikings with just two upperclassmen, Jaycee and Meghan Sumner.
However, Seaman was able to put together a scoring by committee offensive approach, which included key freshmen contributors Katera Mayfield and Chloe Carter, while the Vikings also relied on a stingy defense, keeping 15 opponents in the 40s or below.
“After those first two games, when we only scored 17 points against Leavenworth and got beat by Topeka High by 15 points, we knew something had to change,” said Alexander, who was also named Centennial League co-coach of the year. “Part of it was we were trying to put in a lot of new stuff and we figured out we needed to step back and break things down a little bit more. Part of it was us changing what we were doing because we were just throwing so much at them that we were kind of overwhelming them.
“Once we slowed down and kind of took baby steps a little bit I think you really saw some improvement in our play and what we were trying to do.”
Throughout the year Alexander was a big fan of his Vikings’ work ethic and team chemistry.
“We had a couple of seniors who didn’t get to play, but they really stayed around the team and tried to keep everybody cohesive and I really appreciated that,” he said. “The two seniors that did get to play, I think they realized, “Hey, this is our senior year and we really need the young kids to step up for us to have a successful season.’ They really brought them in and worked hard and the young kids really embraced all of that.”
Seaman wasn’t a dominating team, with nine of its wins coming by 10 or fewer points, but Alexander said the Vikings stuck with their game plan through both the good times and the bad.
“I think our mantra was to just keep grinding,” he said. “No matter what’s going on in the game, if you just keep grinding you’re going to give yourself a chance.
“Our success was bacause they bought in to all four of the coaches and what we were trying to get them to do.”