After posting a 19-4 record and returning to the Iowa high school state tournament quarterfinals in Des Moines for the first time since 1990, the Fairfield girls? basketball team had much to celebrate at their team banquet Sunday night in the middle school cafetorium. Here are a list of award winners, and The Ledger also spoke with the senior captains about the season, the rest of their final year as high schoolers, and their futures.
Rookie of the year: Shaylin Drish
Most improved player: Malory Jones
Rebounding award: Ashley Bloomquist and Kara Jeffrey
Captains award: Ashtyn Drish and Nicole Buch
Most Valuable Player: Nicole Buch
Now that it?s all over, looking back, what was the most memorable part of this season?
Ashtyn Drish: Obviously the State tournament, but this team has been absolutely amazing.
Your sister seems to always forget when she?s the instigator, but is that relationship with her going to be what you miss most?
Drish: Yeah, it?s been great with her growing up so close in age and just being able to play these sports and have these memories that I have with her that are incredible.
You still have some unfinished business with spring/sports, are you just playing softball?
Drish: Yep, just softball.
Have you started focusing on that?
Drish: I actually had hitting today. And we?re hoping to make one more trip to the state tournament with softball which would be really cool.
What do you think the teams? biggest obstacle is going to be to get back to the State tournament?
Drish: We lost six seniors last year so we?re filling in all new spots and just getting the chemisty there between all of the different age groups. We?ve never played together, so finding that chemistry and learning to work together will be a big obstacle.
They kept talking tonight about you returning to basketball and your play being the key to the run to State. Talk about how it feels to have made that choice and seeing it pay off this way.
Drish: It makes me feel great and it was definitely worth it to come out, and I actually helped the team. It benefited me to play and it benefited the team, and it feels great that people notice.
With all of the big moments in your season, what?s going to stand out to you, Nicole?
Nicole Buch: For us, State was a big part of this team and it always will be. My most memorable thing is how special this team was and just to go to Des Moines when everyone else doubted us.
How does it feel to be the face of this program to a lot of little girls around town?
Buch: I just want the little kids to follow our team motto, ?dream big.? There?s nothing stopping you, you just have to go put in the hard work. There are definitely some younger girls that are going to come up in the next couple of years and they?re going to be good atheletes and good basketball players and I can?t wait to see what they can do for the program as well.
Are you going to be rooting for your record to be broken, or how long are you hoping it stands?
Buch: It?s up for grabs right now. That?s what records are for, they are made to be broken and I don?t doubt that it?ll be broken. I?m hoping soon to be honest. I think Fairfield?s girls? basketball program is really starting to get back to where it was a long time ago and I can?t wait to come back and watch that record be broken.
Talk about how perfect it is for someone with your dreams to be born in the ?girls? basketball capital of the world??
Buch: Fairfield?s been great and the best community I could have asked for.
They supported us all year and me my whole four years. Especially Dan Breen building this program back up to what it was and these next couple of years you?ll definitely get to see a lot of talent here in girls? basketball.
Playing for this team and this community has been an honor and it?s sad to think that I?m done but I?ll cherish the memories.
Looking forward, are you working on basketball or playing any spring or summer sports?
Buch: I?m still undecided about spring or summer sports. I might do soccer, I did it last year and I might do softball again. I just don?t really know.
What about managing or something like that?
Buch: No! If I?m not doing a sport, I want to be putting that time into basketball. Which, I always will be no matter what, basketball never stops for me. But, I also want to maybe not do anything and hang out with my family, because I?m going to be gone and away for a while. I?m just taking in as much family time as I can.
Your family is very important to you, talk about moving six and a half hours away?
Buch: I guess it hasn?t totally hit me yet, but I?m starting to think about it here and there. Just, not even playing for Fairfield has really hit me yet.
Coming back and seeing them play next year is going to be hard, but I love these girls and they?re going to do great and I expect them to go back to the State tournament next year.
Being away from home is going to be tough and it?s not really something I can prepare myself for. I just have to suck it up and go to college and get my life going, I guess.
Are you working on cooking and other life skills for when you have to take care of yourself?
Buch: No, there?s a lot of good restaurants in Joplin. I?ll hit those up.