CHARLESTON - Tucker County coach Jim Ambrose let his emotions show when talking about his team after Thursday's 51-31 win over Pocahontas County in Class A quarterfinal action at the Charleston Civic Center.
"This senior group," Ambrose said before taking a break to compose himself, "is special. We've been together since I was coaching them when they were in third grade, so I've seen them become the type of players they are now."
Stephanie Betler, Mariah Bowley, Bekah Simmons and Savannah Ambrose, the daughter of the coach, comprise the Mountain Lions' senior class.
All four will be in the starting lineup when Tucker County faces St. Marys at 11:15 a.m. today in semifinal action.
Savannah Ambrose says her father supplies the motivation the team needs in certain situations, including after the first quarter against the Warriors, when the Mountain Lions trailed 13-9.
"He's positive with his points he makes," she said. "He just told us we needed to play better."
Coach Ambrose was unhappy with the effort of his squad.
"They weren't hustling in the game and didn't even run off the court after the timeout," he said. "So I had a little chat with them, and to their credit the girls
Savannah Ambrose was happy she didn't get the blunt of the "chat."
"I was already on the bench, so he couldn't yell at me," she said with a laugh. "But we listen to what he says. He's just trying to make us better as players."
Advancing to the state semifinals was the last thing on the Mountain Lions' mind back in February after a 60-30 rare blowout loss at Southern, Md.
"I can't explain what happened that night," Jim Ambrose said. "I just told the girls to get their stuff and let's get out of here. Southern is a very tough team and I believe they're playing for the Maryland state championship, but we just didn't show up to play that night."
Just two days later, Tucker County faced a crossroads in the season, traveling to a fellow state-ranked team - Pocahontas County.
"That game turned our season around. I found out what type of team we had after that (a 46-34 win). That gave us the momentum we sorely needed after the Southern loss and started us on a winning streak."
The Mountain Lions (20-4) have reeled off 10 straight victories after the setback at Southern, including avenging the loss to the Rams with an overtime victory in Hambleton.