Athens' Dougherty takes on new role as team leader
When the Athens Wildcats entered Thursday's game at Northeast Bradford they were coming off a tough loss.
Their game against Sayre on Tuesday was the first NTL defeat they had suffered this year and the 19 points they scored marked their worst offensive game of the year.
They needed someone to step up Thursday.
They needed a spark.
They needed a leader.
They needed everything that Monica Dougherty gave them.
The senior guard scored 22 points, hitting one shot after another. After Northeast Bradford cut the deficit to single digits at the half, Dougherty started the third quarter with six straight points as Athens began to pull away.
She hit long-range jumpers and mid-range shots. She got to the basket and made free throws.
Dougherty shot, she shot often, and she shot well.
It's what she has done more and more this year, as she has taken on a bigger role in the Wildcats offense.
"Each year I have tried to gain a little more confidence with my shot to try and even out my game a little bit," Dougherty said.
Throughout her career Dougherty has been a good floor general leading the Wildcats offense, but this year she is gaining more confidence to shoot the ball more and more.
"I have tried to lead the team a little more," she said. "I have tried to step up now that I'm a senior. All the seniors play big role. I couldn't ask for a better team."
With other seniors like Christin Dunkling and Danielle Stopper inside and some of the team's shooters like Danielle Dougherty and Rachael Donnelly stepping up, Monica Dougherty has found that she can get them the ball and also still get scoring chances for herself.
"I've had to adjust a little bit," she said. "We have more balance now and it makes it easier for us to get an open shot."
For Dougherty it has taken a little bit to get used to being a senior leader.
"It's a different role," she said. "I'm trying my best. We have great seniors and we all work together well."
This year Dougherty is finding that the younger players turn to her and the other seniors to help them out.
"They look up to us," she said. "We try and be role models on and off the court."
Because it's her senior year Dougherty knows there are no more next years. There are no more second chances.
If they want to win the league, win districts, get to states, this is their final chance.
"It just gives us that much more incentive," Dougherty said. "We always wanted to win a league title and go for districts."
It's hard for Dougherty to get used to the idea that she's a senior now.
"It's crazy to think about," she said. "Basketball has flown by so fast. It hasn't sunk in that this is my last year. It gives me that much more incentive to win."
With three seniors in the starting lineup Dougherty knows the Wildcats have the experience, and talent, to have a successful year.
"We definitely have the experience on the team," she said. "We have played basketball together for I don't even know how many years. This is our last chance and we want to do well."