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Buffalo Gals setting their sights on Region 20 Tournament with spirited high-hopes!

Senior stalwart, Brittyn Heaton, posts-up in the paint fending-off Wayne’s Emma Hallows while Andee VanDyke guards Janni Hoyt (45). Brave-hearted Brit makes her home-court swan song stand with a nine-point night. Photos by Jerry Melrose.

The Buffalo Gals polished-off the scheduled season at home on February 11, enduring a narrow 53-47 loss versus Wayne, to whom they’d suffered a 68-52 defeat on December 18, only to be heading their way again next, when the currently eighth-ranked [two win - six loss] eight member Valley squad will be confronting the third-ranked [7-3] 15-member Badgers.

“What a good season!” Eternally optimistic, Head Coach Dustin Cox conveys some strategic tactics the team will be growing to improve upon. “Now, we’re moving on to postseason. Moving on, we have Wayne next Wednesday (16) in Wayne. First round in region. Great things. The girls are playing hard: fighting hard. They’ve just done well; they’ve done so good. We talk about in the locker room things we can work on: making a little easier lay-ups, making two more foul shots, three more lay-ups. I’m not asking to make every single lay-up. I mean, it would be great if they would. Just three, just one! When you focus on that, if everyone just made one, it’s a huge difference.

“They’re so fun to coach. They’re so invested ... in time, in mind, in heart. It’s not a better team out there to be a coach on. They’re amazing! Brittyn for four years. Senior night. What a gal; what a gal! What a worker; what a teammate. Just everything we’ve got going on.”

Janni Hoyt ferociously driving toward the hoop past Wayne’s Makayla Jones cheered-on by Sheridyn Hoyt (partially obscured) and Annabelle Leyland. After a combined 16 scores, including three three-pointers, her mind is set: “Just gotta keep working hard and move on. Win the next seven games, and that’s all that matters.”

Of the JV’s undefeated 20-game campaign, he adds, “And that includes the Sophomore Tournament! We didn’t have Ruth, Janni on the court for that. We had Ruth and Jan and

Brit on the sideline for that. So, that’s something to be tremendously pleased about. We’re losing one senior, then there’s four girls on the eighth-grade team: Maddie Cox, Andee Anderson, MaKaydee Bauer and Tenacie Roundy. They just got second-place in their seventh and eighth-grade

Region Tournament.” Then, in a surprising sudden revelation, this father of six girls ranging in age from 19 to two, joyously emoted: “I love coaching! I love girls! And that’s great.”

One of them, freshman firebrand Rachel, confessed, “At the beginning of the season, we even debated whether we should have the JV’s, just because of our numbers (seven). And at the end, I’m really super-glad that we did. So much conditioning! State Tournament, region coming. We’re going to have the conditioning of playing two games, but we’re going to have to play so hard to get those wins.”

Reflecting on her formidably illustrious career, soon-to-be-graduating Brittyn Heaton shares her spirit of grateful appreciation. “I am super-blessed with the opportunity to have more than a community where these coaches and these girls are by my side constantly. And I’m never going to forget, like, memories I had on this court for the past four years. And, just looking up to this moment, it’s definitely not a moment I wanted to come: ended-up, it came a lot faster. But, I’m super-excited for what our team’s going to accomplish, and super-excited for us to continue on our postseason. And, our season’s not over yet! So, we’re going to continue to play hard, and love one another and play as a team.”

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